We're over the moon that Benediction, the third novel in Kent Haruf's Plainsong trilogy, has been shortlisted for the inaugural Folio Prize.

Announcing the shortlist, Lavinia Greenlaw, chair of the judges said:

‘From its inception, the emphasis of the Folio Prize has been on the relationship between good writing and good reading. The Prize makes an unapologetic assertion about the value of experience and expertise, and the high expectations that come from spending much of your life investigating and testing language and form.

Our final choice will be extremely difficult. Each one of these eight titles would be a worthy winner of a prize dedicated to celebrating the best of fiction as it is now being written.’

Benediction follows Dad Lewis through his last summer in his beloved town, Holt, Colorado. As old friends pass in and out of his front door to voice their farewells, their prayers, their good wishes, Dad’s wife and daughter work to make his final days as comfortable as possible, knowing all is tainted by the heartbreak of an absent son.

Next door, a little girl moves in with her grandmother and is drawn into the circle of friendship, her innocence and youth providing promise and hope to all those around her.

Benediction is a devastating yet affirming novel that explores the pain, the compassion and above all the humanity of ordinary people.

You can read the opening passage here.

The full shortlist consists of eight books:

Red Doc by Anne Carson (Random House/Jonathan Cape)
Schroder by Amity Gaige (Faber & Faber)
Last Friends by Jane Gardam (Little, Brown)
Benediction by Kent Haruf (Picador)
The Flame Throwers by Rachel Kushner (Random House/Harvill Secker)
A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride (Galley Beggar Press)
A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava (Maclehose Editions)
Tenth of December by George Saunders (Bloomsbury)

The winner will be announced on 10 March 2014.