Man Booker judge makes Warwick Prize shortlist

Robert Macfarlane and book cover for The Old Ways Robert Macfarlane, author of The Old Ways, is chair of this year's Man Booker Prize judges (photo: Angus Muir)

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A book by the chairman of judges of this year's Man Booker Prize is on the shortlist of another literary award, organisers announced on Friday.

Robert Macfarlane's The Old Ways appears on a six-strong shortlist for the £25,000 Warwick Prize for Writing.

Awarded every two years by Warwick University, the prize is open to works of fiction, science, history and poetry.

The winner will be announced at a ceremony in London on 24 September.

This year's shortlist includes one poetry, three non-fiction and two fiction titles.

The books are:

  • Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science by Jim Al-Khalili (Penguin) - non-fiction
  • Sufficient Grace by Amy Espeseth (Scribe) - fiction
  • Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine (Icon Books) - non-fiction
  • Suddenly, a Knock on the Door by Etgar Keret (Chatto & Windus) - fiction
  • The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane (Hamish Hamilton) - non-fiction
  • Memorial by Alice Oswald (Faber and Faber) - poetry

The shortlist was announced at a special event as part of the Melbourne Writers' Festival, Australia.

Among the longlisted titles that failed to make the final cut are Julian Barnes' The Sense of an Ending, which won the Man Booker Prize in 2011, and Jonathan Franzen's Freedom.

Alice Oswald Alice Oswald's Memorial is a version of Homer's Iliad

In The Old Ways, nature writer Macfarlane explores the ancient tracks and sea-ways that form part of a vast network of old routes criss-crossing the British landscape and its waters.

Macfarlane, a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, won the Guardian First Book Award, the Somerset Maugham Award, and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award for his first book, Mountains of the Mind (2003).

His second, The Wild Places (2007), was longlisted for the 2009 Warwick Prize for Writing.

Among this year's finalists are Alice Oswald's poetic reworking of Homer's Iliad, Cordelia Fine's polemical look at the science behind sexual difference and Amy Espeseth's debut novel, set in a religious community in rural Wisconsin.

The judges are Professor Ian Sansom of the University of Warwick (chair), with writer Professor Marina Warner and Professor Ed Byrne of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

Professor Sansom said: "My fellow judges and I are thrilled to have arrived at this diverse list of works of undeniable quality after many hours of reading.

"We believe the shortlist exemplifies the inclusive approach to the appreciation of literature that the Warwick Prize for Writing was established to promote."

The Warwick Prize was founded in 2009 and is run by the university.

Naomi Klein was the inaugural winner of the prize in 2009, for The Shock Doctrine. Peter Forbes won the prize in 2011 for Dazzled and Deceived.

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