Harrowing, inspiring work on the aftermath of Japan's tsunami wins 2018 Rathbones Folio Prize

Richard Lloyd Parry’s Ghosts of the Tsunami has “depth and reach to close the gaps between other nations, other cultures,” judges say

A work of literary non-fiction that travels deep into the grief, the trauma and the mysteries of the remote communities that lived through the Japanese earthquake and tsunami is tonight, Tuesday, 8th May, named the winner of the 2018 Rathbones Folio Prize.

The foreign correspondent and Asia Editor of The Times Richard Lloyd Parry receives the £20,000 prize – which rewards the best work of literature of the year, regardless of form – for Ghosts of the Tsunami.

The judges, Jim Crace, Nikesh Shukla and Kate Summerscale, said: “From a shortlist of eight powerful, moving, important books, we have selected Ghosts of the Tsunami by Richard Lloyd Parry as our winner. It is a piece of heightened reportage about the 2011 Japanese earthquake and its devastating aftermaths, rendered as great literature. It is both harrowing and inspiring. Here is a book which not only interprets for a non-Japanese reader the subtleties and complexities of that nation’s life, especially its family life and how it copes with grief, but also has the depth and reach to close the gaps between other nations, other cultures. Read it and you will be changed for the better.”

Lloyd Parry, an award-winning foreign correspondent, lived through the earthquake in Tokyo, and spent six years reporting from the disaster zone, where he encountered ghosts and hauntings, and observed how the shock of the disaster continued to express itself in bizarre and mysterious ways. Ghosts of the Tsunami offers a heart-breaking glimpse into the lives of those struggling to find consolation in the ruins.

Through the intimate retelling of these personal stories Lloyd Parry has delivered a “fractured portrait of a country we’re more accustomed to seeing as a polished whole” (The New York Times).Ghosts of the Tsunami is published in hardback by Jonathan Cape.

Philip Howell, CEO of Rathbones, said: “Our heartfelt congratulations go to Richard Lloyd Parry for winning the Rathbones Folio Prize 2018. Being cross-genre, this prize highlights the diversity of great writing and for Richard Lloyd Parry to be elevated above such a strong shortlist is an impressive feat. Colleagues at Rathbones, clients and friends have all greatly enjoyed exploring the shortlist proving the power of the written word to engage, challenge and connect. We look forward to our continued collaboration with the Folio Academy Foundation in support of the Rathbones Folio Prize and our other programmes, such as Rathbones Folio Mentorships for young writers and Rathbones BookBubble digital reading programme.”

The 2018 judges were Jim Crace, author of twelve award-winning books, including Continent, Quarantine, Being Dead, Harvest and The Melody; Nikesh Shukla, editor of the essay collection The Good Immigrant and author of Coconut Unlimited and the widely acclaimed Meatspace; and the award-winning writer and journalist Kate Summerscale, author of books including The Suspicions of Mr Whicher and The Queen of Whale Cay.

Ghosts of the Tsunami was chosen from a shortlist of fiction and non-fiction that showed extraordinary international breadth, with works from Ireland, Pakistan, China, North America and the UK in contention for the prize.

Lloyd Parry’s win is a triumph for creative non-fiction, and affirms the unique role the form plays in making sense of our complex world.

Commenting on the distinction between fiction and non-fiction, Jim Crace said: “Anybody who writes or reads fiction or poetry is bound to recognise their dependence on the facts of the observed world – non-fiction, in other words. So it is immensely satisfying to play a part in judging a literary prize that recognises and celebrates that close connection and considers works in all three genres. What matters is depth of insight and magnificence of expression no matter whether they have been occasioned by a real world or an imagined one.”

Richard Lloyd Parry was awarded with the trophy and a cheque of £20,000 at the Rathbones Folio Prize ceremony at the British Library tonight. He joins Hisham Matar (2017), Akhil Sharma (2015) and George Saunders (2014) as winners of the prize, which was launched in 2013 in a spirited challenge to the Man Booker Prize.

The Rathbones Folio Prize is the only literary prize in which all books – fiction or non-fiction – are judged, strictly on merit, by the Folio Academy, a community of 300+ writers representing excellence in literature.

A remarkable and deeply moving book - describing in plain and perfect prose the almost unimaginable devastation and tragedy of the Japanese tsunami.
— Henry Marsh
Enthralling and deeply moving, fully conveying and involving the reader in the sheer horror and tragedy of all that happened yet with such beauty, honesty and sincerity. Richard Lloyd Parry has returned the trust and done justice to the victims and their families a hundredfold.
— David Peace

Notes to Editors

About the Rathbones Folio Prize

The Folio Prize was established in 2013 as the first major English language book prize open to writers from around the world. It is the only prize in which all the books considered for the prize are selected and judged by an academy of peers. When new sponsors, Rathbone Investment Management, came on board the prize was expanded to include all works of literature, regardless of form. Previous winners were George Saunders in 2014, Akhil Sharma in 2015, and Hisham Matar in 2017.

About The Folio Academy

The Folio Academy is a community of 300+ writers who represent excellence in literature. Academicians include: Margaret Atwood, Carol Ann Duffy, Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie and Zadie Smith. The Academy recently recruited members including Amanda Foreman, William Dalymple, Jon Ronson, Alan Johnson and Andrew Marr. Between them, Academicians have won thousands of literary awards, including 16 Man Booker Prizes. Academicians may be called upon to comment on literature matters in the media, to appear at festivals and public events, and may volunteer to mentor young writers in association with the charity First Story, which runs 320 residencies in secondary schools serving low-income communities.

About The Literature/Folio Prize Foundation

The Literature/Folio Prize Foundation is a registered charity committed to bringing the most outstanding works of English language literature to public attention through the awarding of the Prize and other initiatives. Overseen by its trustees, the Foundation seeks to engage readers and writers throughout the English-speaking world in cultural debate and in the celebration and sustainment of the art of literature, which it believes has the capacity to enrich and change people's lives.

About Rathbone Investment Management

Rathones has a long history of being involved in the community and continues to build on this legacy today through its support of education, sports and the arts. Rathbone Investment Management is one of the UK's largest and longest-established providers of high quality, personalised discretionary investment services. It manages £39.1 billion of funds (as at 31 December 2017, including funds managed by Rathbone Unit Trust Management) for individuals, charities and trustees, and is part of Rathbone Brothers Plc, an independent company with a listing on the London Stock Exchange. Investment management services are offered in Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Chichester, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Kendal, Liverpool, London, Lymington, Newcastle, Winchester and Jersey. www.rathbones.com

About the Rathbones Folio Prize Mentorships

Four Rathbones Folio Academicians are selected by ballot from a pool of nearly 100 writers who put themselves forward for the annual Rathbones Folio Mentorship scheme. They will be paired with one of four students selected out of the total of over 1,300 young people who took part in this year's First Story writing residencies in 70 different schools across the country. In 2017/18, the writers AL Kennedy, Ross Raisin, Kamila Shamsie and Evie Wyld are the mentors for the scheme.

For all media enquires please contact Annabel Robinson and Daniel Kramb at FMcM Associates on 0207 405 7422 or annabelr@fmcm.co.uk, danielk@fmcm.co.uk

Ghosts of the Tsunami by Richard Lloyd Parry is published in paperback on 24 May 2018 (£9.99 Vintage)