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Folio Prize judges to be chaired by Lavinia Greenlaw

Lavinia Greenlaw
Poet, novelist and critic Lavinia Greenlaw will lead the Folio judges

A jury of international writers, chaired by poet and novelist Lavinia Greenlaw, has been announced for new literary award, The Folio Prize.

The inaugural winner of the £40,000 prize, for a work of fiction in the English language published in the UK, will be announced in March 2014.

"I'm delighted to be chairing this prize not least because it is a prize that - unlike any other - puts first the idea of writers as readers," Greenlaw said.

"This is the perfect time for the Folio Prize to be inaugurated. Fiction is finding new forms and writers are resisting all kinds of borders."

Joining Greenlaw on the judging panel are Michael Chabon, Sarah Hall, Nam Le and Pankaj Mishra.

The judges were drawn by lot from a 100-strong global academy of authors and critics which includes Margaret Atwood, Philip Pullman, AS Byatt, JM Coetzee, Sebastian Faulks, Mark Haddon, Zadie Smith and Jeanette Winterson.

The rules state that the panel must contain no more than three members of the same gender, with three judges from the UK and two from further afield.

In September, academy members will nominate up to three books each, and the 60 most highly-rated books will be passed to the judges for consideration.

"It's like having a vast group of people who are going to tell you about the things that they've discovered that will thrill and delight you," Greenlaw told BBC News.

In November, publishers will be invited to write letters of support for up to five books that they feel merit consideration. Based on these recommendations, the judges will call in a further 20 books.

The judges will read 80 titles in all with a shortlist of eight announced in early February.

"It's a very daunting task and you basically clear your diary and are glad that it's winter," said Greenlaw, whose poetry collections include Minsk and The Casual Perfect.

She is also the author of the novels Mary George of Allnorthover and An Irresponsible Age, and two books of non-fiction.

Formerly known as the Literature Prize, the Folio Prize was first announced in 2011 amidst a row in literary circles about the decision by Man Booker judges that year to focus on "readability".

The organisers say it is "the first major English-language book prize open to writers from all over the world".

The Folio Prize joins a literary awards landscape that already contains the £50,000 Man Booker Prize, the £30,000 Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize) and the new £10,000 Goldsmiths Prize.

The Man Booker Prize, which is open to writers from the UK, the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland, unveils its long list next Tuesday. The winner will be announced in October.

Greenlaw stressed the Folio was "not in competition" with the Booker.

It was a prize that "was very much a peer review", she said, in which "writers were looking closely at other writers".

She added: "All writers love being told by a reader how much they love their books... but on the other hand we value hugely the rigorous assessment by somebody else who is doing what we're doing."

Andrew Kidd, the founder of the prize, said: "It's thrilling to see the Folio Prize's new model for the selection of judges result in such a splendid first panel. I cannot imagine a more dynamic group to fulfil the prize's aim of connecting great new writing with readers."

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