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Ben Lerner, Zadie Smith on list for Rathbones Folio Prize

LONDON — Works of fiction by Ben Lerner and Zadie Smith and an exploration of why women join the Islamic State group are among eight books contending for Britain’s Rathbones Folio Prize for literature.

Lerner’s 1990s-set novel “The Topeka School” and Smith’s eclectic book of short stories “Grand Union” are on the shortlist for the multi-genre 30,000 pound ($39,000) prize, which was announced Tuesday.

American-Iranian writer Azadeh Moaveni’s book about women drawn to ISIS, “Guest House for Young Widows” is also in the running, as is U.K. writer Laura Cumming’s family-secrets memoir “On Chapel Sands.”

The list also includes British poet Fiona Benson’s “Vertigo & Ghost”; British author James Lasdun’s pair of novellas, “Victory”; Irish writer Sinead Gleeson’s collection of essays about women's bodies, “Constellations”; and Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli’s American road-trip novel “Lost Children Archive.”

The winner, chosen by a jury of three other writers, will be announced March 23.

Founded in 2013 to rival the prestigious Booker Prize, the Folio is open to fiction, nonfiction and poetry published in Britain.

The Associated Press