The shortlist for the £30,000 Rathbones Folio Prize includes a book about women who decide to join Islamic State.

The prize is “borderless” and open to all genres across fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

Among the nominees is Guest House For Young Widows by American-Iranian journalist Azadeh Moaveni, which follows the lives of women who decided to join Islamic State.

Azadeh Moaveni
Azadeh Moaveni (Rathbones Folio Prize/PA)

Also shortlisted are Zadie Smith’s Grand Union short story collection and Ben Lerner’s novel The Topeka School.

Paul Farley, who is chairman of the judges, said: “The books shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize 2020 tell stories and ask questions about how and why stories get told.

“They speak to their moment and take soundings from fellow writers, past and present.

“They record, investigate and explore. They navigate their way through various storms, they allow for doubts and uncertainties.

“Common themes might echo through their collective pages, but in the end each book is irreducibly its own craft and vessel.”

Also shortlisted are Fiona Benson’s Vertigo & Ghost poetry collection and James Lasdun’s Victory, which is a pair of novellas.

Sinead Gleeson’s Constellations essay collection on feminism and Valeria Luiselli’s novel Lost Children Archive are also being considered for the prize.

The Rathbones Folio Prize was established in 2013 as the first English language book prize open to writers from around the world, according to the organisers.

On the judging panel for this year’s awards are poet and non-fiction writer Paul Farley, Desmond Elliott Prize-winning novelist Nikita Lalwani and Sunday Times Young Writer Of The Year Ross Raisin.

The winner of the 2020 prize will be announced at the British Library on March 23.