London, United Kingdom | AFP |
Six authors are vying for the Man Booker Prize, the world’s most prestigious English-language literary award to be announced Tuesday, in a shortlist celebrated for taking risks and tackling tough subjects.
The winner will be announced at a glitzy event in London after judges last month whittled down the long-list to six finalists, turning down more established names for relatives unknowns.
Jury chair Amanda Foreman said the judges were “excited by the willingness of so many authors to take risks with language and form”.
“The final six reflect the centrality of the novel in modern culture — in its ability to champion the unconventional, to explore the unfamiliar, and to tackle difficult subjects.”
The shortlisted authors hail from Britain, Canada and the United States. While the prize was opened up to non-Commonwealth authors in 2013, no US author has yet won it.
Favourite to win is Madeleine Thien with her third novel, “Do Not Say We Have Nothing”, a weighty 480-page book which portrays a young woman recounting her family’s past in revolutionary China.
Bookmakers Ladbrokes gave odds of 2/1 for Thien to win, followed by British author Graeme Macrae Burnet’s “His Bloody Project” with odds of 3/1.
His second novel is set in 19th-century rural Scotland and tells the story of a young and poor tenant farmer who murders the village administrator and his family.
The book’s Glasgow-based publisher is run by just two people and is struggling to meet demand.
Other novels shortlisted include “Hot Milk” by South African-born British author Deborah Levy, who depicts a torturous relationship between mother and daughter in a Spanish village.
Canadian-British author David Szalay’s “All That Man Is” traverses different countries to follow the lives of nine men.
“The Sellout” by US author Paul Beatty employs satire to explore racial equality in a fictional neighbourhood of his native Los Angeles.
His novel is “a very hard book for people to digest,” Beatty told BBC Radio.
The debut novel by American Ottessa Moshfegh, “Eileen”, follows a disturbed young woman who cares for her alcoholic father and works at a youth prison.
“This is my first novel and I know that I can do better. So I want to win for the next book,” Moshfegh, who has the weakest odds, told the BBC.
The winner of the Man Booker Prize receives £52,500, ($64,100, 59,000 euros), although greater sums come from the huge sales prompted the moment judges announce their decision.
Last year the prize was won by Jamaican author Marlon James, for his novel “A Brief History of Seven Killings”.
The Man Booker was launched in 1969 and has awarded writers including Ian McEwan, J. M. Coetzee, and Iris Murdoch.