The Rathbones Folio Prize 2022

Many congratulations to Colm Tóibín, who has been awarded the Rathbones Folio Prize 2022 for his novel The Magician, a haunting, intimate portrait of the exiled German Nobel winner Thomas Mann.

Through an epic fictionalised biography of Mann, Tóibín masterfully charts the turbulent story of the first half of the 20th century. Click here for the Rathbones Folio Prize 2022 Winner Media Release.

On accepting the award Tóibín said: ‘I am extremely grateful to the judges, because this matters. It’s a writers’ prize, it’s decided by writers, and obviously that means a great deal to me.’

Watch Tóibín’s full acceptance speech, delivered live via video link from New York:

Judges Tessa Hadley, Rachel Long and William Atkins, said:

‘Choosing one winner from the eight titles shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize found us pulled in so many different directions by these extraordinary books, which we lived with and loved and read and read again. And then gradually it became clear – and was a surprise to all of us – that we’d each arrived at the same decision. Colm Tóibín’s The Magician is such a capacious, generous, ambitious novel, taking in a great sweep of 20th century history, yet rooted in the intimate detail of one man’s private life.’

After reading 80 books for this prize, judge Rachel Long said that The Magician made her ‘fall in love with reading all over again’.

Tessa Hadley

Chair of Judges, Tessa Hadley

The Rathbones Folio Prize 2022 Shortlist

 Natasha Brown – Assembly; Damon Galgut – The Promise; Selima Hill – Men Who Feed Pigeons; Philip Hoare – Albert & the Whale; Claire Keegan – Small Things Like These; Gwendoline Riley – My Phantoms; Sunjeev Sahota – China Room; Colm Tóibín – The Magician. Full details below.

The Rathbones Folio Prize 2022 Longlist

A Little Devil in America – Hanif Abdurraqib (Allen Lane, Non-fiction)

From the breakout New York Times-bestselling writer, this is a kaleidoscopic book of essays celebrating Black performance – from tap dancing to punk, backing singers to TV hopefuls, through sport, sit-coms, film, fashion and space travel.

Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. He is also the author of Go Ahead in the RainNotes to A Tribe Called Quest, a genre-bending group biography, and a collection of essays, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us.

Checkout 19 – Claire-Louise Bennett (Cape, Fiction)

A thrilling, furious, startlingly original novel about womanhood, art and life. Fusing fantasy with lived experience, Checkout 19 is a mesmerising journey through the small triumphs and tragedies that define us.

Claire-Louise Bennett grew up in Wiltshire and now lives in Ireland. In 2013 she was awarded the inaugural White Review Short Story Prize and went on to complete her debut Pond (Fitzcarraldo Editions), which was shortlisted for the 2016 Dylan Thomas Prize.


Assembly – Natasha Brown (Hamish Hamilton, Fiction)

An unconventional story of a woman on her way to a garden party.

Natasha Brown is a British novelist. She is a 2019 London Writers Award recipient, a 2022 Burgess Fellow at the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing, and a Women’s Prize x Good Housekeeping Futures Award finalist. Assembly, her debut novel, has also been shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize and the Art Seidenbaum Award.

Everyone Knows Your Mother is A Witch Rivka Galchen (4th Estate, Fiction)

This novel begins in Germany, 1618. Plague is spreading, the Thirty Years’ War has begun, and fear and suspicion are in the air throughout the Holy Roman Empire. In the small town of Leonberg, Katharina Kepler is accused of being a witch.

Rivka Galchen has an MD from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and completed her MFA at Columbia University. She lives in New York City. Her prize-winning previous novel Atmospheric Disturbances has been translated into over 20 languages.


The Promise Damon Galgut (Chatto, Fiction)

This novel charts the crash and burn of a white South African family, living on a farm outside Pretoria. The family is gathering for Ma’s funeral; the younger generation, Anton and Amor, detest everything the family stand for – not least the failed promise to the family’s black maid.

Damon Galgut is the Booker prize-winning author of 11 novels including The Good Doctor and In A Strange Room. His fiction has been translated into 16 languages. The film of The Quarry, starring Michael Shannon, was released in 2020. He lives and works in Cape Town.

The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis Amitav Ghosh (John Murray, Non-fiction)

The Nutmeg’s Curse is an enthralling and urgent history of the influence of colonialism on the world today. It is told through the surprising story of the nutmeg, which becomes a parable revealing the ways human history has always been entangled with earthly materials – spices, tea, sugarcane, opium, and fossil fuels.

Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta and grew up in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India. He is the author of several novels including Sea of Poppies, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and six works of non-fiction, including The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable.


Men Who Feed Pigeons – Selima Hill (Bloodaxe. Poetry)

This collection brings together seven contrasting but complementary poem sequences all relating to men and different kinds of women’s relationships with men.

Like all of Selima Hill’s work, the poems in this book chart various experiences with startling humour, and surprising combinations of the homely and the outlandish. Selima Hill is the prize-winning author of 14 collections of poetry including Violet (1997) and Bunny (2001). Men Who Feed Pigeons was shortlisted for both the T.S. Eliot Prize and the Forward Prize. She lives in Dorset.


Albert & the Whale – Philip Hoare (4th Estate, Non-fiction)

In this illuminating exploration of the intersection between life, art and the sea, Philip Hoare sets out to discover why Albert Dürer’s art endures. In encounters with medieval alchemists, modernist poets, eccentric emperors, queer soul rebels and ambassadorial whales these explorations provoke awkward questions: what is natural or unnatural? Is art a fatal contract? Or does it in fact have the power to save us?

Philip Hoare is the author of eight works of non-fiction, including Leviathan or, The Whale, which won the 2009 Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction. He lives in Southampton.

Palmares – Gayl Jones (Virago, Fiction)

An epic tale of love and liberation, set in 17th century colonial Brazil. Almeyda, a young slave girl, hears whispers, rumours of Palmares, a hidden settlement where fugitive slaves live free. But can this promised land exist? And what price is paid for ‘freedom’?

Gayl Jones was born in Kentucky in 1949. Her books include Corregidora, Eva’s Man, Mosquito and The Healing, the last a National Book Award finalist and New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Palmares is her first novel in over 20 years.


Small Things Like These – Claire Keegan (Faber, Fiction)

In 1985, in an Irish town, Bill Furlong, a coal and timber merchant, faces his busiest season. As he does the rounds, he encounters the complicit silences of a people controlled by the Church.

Claire Keegan was born in 1968 and grew up on a farm in Wicklow. She is the author of two collections of short stories, Antarctica (1998) which won the Rooney Prize for Literature, and Walk the Blue Fields, won the Edge Hill Short Story Prize as well as the novel, Foster. She lives in County Wexford, Ireland.

Notes on the Sonnets – Luke Kennard (Penned in the Margins, Poetry)

Kennard recasts Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets as a series of anarchic prose poems set in the same joyless house party. Wry, insolent and self-eviscerating, Notes on the Sonnets riddles the Bard with the anxieties of the modern age.

Luke Kennard is an award-winning writer of five collections of poetry, including The Solex Brothers and The Harbour Beyond The Movie, and two novels: The Transition, and The Answer to Everything. Notes on the Sonnets won the Forward Prize for Best Collection 2021. He lectures at the University of Birmingham.

Everybody: A Book About Freedom – Olivia Laing (Picador, Non-fiction)

In this book Laing leads an ambitious investigation into the body in the twentieth century. Using the life of the renegade psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich she charts an electrifying course through the great freedom movements of the era, grappling along the way with significant and complicated figures including Nina Simone, Christopher Isherwood, Andrea Dworkin, Sigmund Freud, Susan Sontag and Malcolm X.

Olivia Laing is the author of four acclaimed works of non-fiction including The Trip to Echo Spring and The Lonely City and a novel, Crudo, which won the 2019 James Tait Memorial Prize. She lives in Suffolk.

Sea State – Tabitha Lasley (4th Estate, Memoir)

Tabitha Lasley left her job, her relationship and London, and headed to Aberdeen to meet offshore oil rig workers. She wanted to see what men are like with no women around. She soon finds out what she is like with no one else around, save for itinerant men who spend half their lives stranded in the middle of the sea. Alone, and contemplating the wreckage of her former life, she dives into a relationship with the first rig worker she meets, a reckless affair that lays them both bare.

Tabitha Lasley was a journalist for ten years. She has lived in London, Johannesburg and Aberdeen. This is her first book.

My Body – Emily Ratajowski (Quercus, Memoir)

This debut essay collection is a profoundly personal exploration of feminism, sexuality, and power, and of men’s treatment of women and women’s rationalisations for accepting that treatment. These essays chronicle moments from  Ratajkowski’s life while investigating the fetishisation of girls and female beauty, culture’s obsession with and contempt for women’s sexuality, the perverse dynamics of the fashion and film industries, and the grey area between consent and abuse.

Emily Ratajkowski is a model, actress, activist, entrepreneur, and writer. She starred in David Fincher’s Gone Girl, among other films. Her 2020 essay for New York Magazine, “Buying Myself Back,” was hailed as a landmark; this is her first book.


My Phantoms – Gwendoline Riley (Granta, Fiction)

Bridget is in her early forties. She sees her mother, Helen (Hen), once a year, an arrangement that suits them both. But what is this relationship that feels to Bridget mostly performative? Is Bridget cruel to Hen, or is she merely rational? Is it possible for these two women to find peace with one another without acknowledging the truth of it, without reckoning with the past?

Gwendoline Riley is the author of First Love, which was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize as well as Cold Water, Sick Notes, Joshua Spassky and Opposed Positions. In 2018, the TLS named her as one of the twenty best British and Irish novelists working today.

Beautiful World, Where Are You? – Sally Rooney (Faber, Fiction)

Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon are still young – but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They worry about sex and friendship and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?

Sally Rooney is the author of two previous novels Conversations with Friends and Normal People, which was the Waterstones Book of the Year 2019 and the Costa Novel of the Year in 2018. Rooney co- wrote the television adaptation of Normal People which was broadcast on the BBC in 2020.


China Room – Sunjeev Sahota (Harvill Secker, Fiction)

Mehar, a young bride in rural 1929 Punjab, is trying to discover the identity of her new husband. She and her sisters-in-law, married to three brothers in a single ceremony, spend their days at work in the family’s ‘china room’, sequestered from contact with the men. This is a heart-stopping story of love, family, survival and betrayal from a prize-winning author.

Sunjeev Sahota is the author of Ours Are the Streets and The Year of the Runaways, which was shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize among others. He was chosen as one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists in 2013. He lives in Sheffield.

Amnion – Stephanie Sy-Quia (Granta, Poetry)

An extraordinary book-length poem from a significant young thinker on migratory histories, race and colonialism. This contemporary lyric epic, which journeys from the Philippines to Libya, through France, Spain, and the UK, questions the roots of migration and colonialism, charting what it means to grow up in a family divided by geography, history and language.

Stephanie Sy-Quia was born in 1995 in California and now lives in London. She studied English at Oxford and currently works as a freelance journalist. This is her first book.


The Magician – Colm Tóibín (Viking, Fiction)

The Magician is at once the intimate portrait of a writer and, at the same time, the story of a turbulent century. It tells the story of Thomas Mann, who would find himself on the wrong side of history in WW1; would have six children and keep his homosexuality hidden; would write some of the greatest works of European literature, and win the Nobel Prize, but would never return to the country that inspired his creativity.

Colm Tóibín was born in Enniscorthy in 1955. He is the multi prize-winning author of ten novels including The Master, Brooklyn, The Testament of Mary, Nora Webster and House of Names. He has also published two collections of stories and many works of non-fiction. He lives in Dublin.


A Year in the New Life – Jack Underwood (Faber, Poetry)

The poems in this collection cover a wide range of preoccupations, including imminent societal collapse and public unrest; the limits, myths and complexities of masculinity and fatherhood; and uncanny, often amusing scenarios. All is presented with a generosity and tenderness that makes the poet so unmistakable – indispensable for the strange times in which we live.

Jack Underwood is an award-winning poet, writer and critic. He was part of the 2009 Faber New Poets series; his first collection was entitled Happiness (Faber, 2015) and his debut book of non-fiction, Not Even This was published in 2021 by Corsair. He is senior lecturer in creative writing at Goldsmiths College.

The Rathbones Folio Prize 2022 Judges

Multi award-winning writer of novels and short stories Tessa Hadley (Chair); poet and founder of the Octavia Poetry Collective for women of colour Rachel Long; and award winning non-fiction writer William Atkins.

Tessa Hadley
William Atkins

The longlisted titles for the Prize were drawn from a large pool of nominations from our Academy.

Download the press release here.