The shortlist announced for the annual Booker Prize for Literature includes two first-time novels among the six finalists.
Novels from Canada, Ireland, the United States and the United Kingdom make up the six finalists for the prestigious Booker Prize for fiction that explores families, communities and a world in crisis.
Shortlisted for the 50,000 British pound ($61,400) award announced Thursday are Canadian writer Sarah Bernstein’s absurdist allegory Study for Obedience; If I Survive You by American author Jonathan Escofary, a collection of interconnected stories about a Jamaican family in Miami; and Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist Paul Harding’s historical novel This Other Eden, based on a real interracial island community in the 19th century.
Two Irish writers are on the shortlist: Paul Lynch, post-democratic dystopia, Prophet’s Song; and Paul Murray for the tragic family story The Bee Sting.
The finalists are rounded out by UK author Sethna Maru’s Western Lane, the story of a young sportsperson struggling with family tragedy.
Among the 13 semi-finalists announced last month, Ireland’s Sebastian Barry and Malaysia’s Tan Twan Eng, the most popular writers, did not make the cut.
Last year’s winner was Shehan Karunathilaka for The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, a „post-noir” satire set during Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war.
Canadian author Esi Edugyan, who heads the panel of judges, said the books contained „horrors” but also „joys, sorrows, joys, consolations”.
They also reflect a much darker world, noted fellow judge Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro.
„We read some Covid novels, we read some dystopian novels, we read some dark novels,” Shapiro said. „Some of the best novels seemed to reflect the dire times that I certainly felt we were living in,” he said.
„We turn to creative writers to look more deeply at the crises we face,” he added.
A jury of Edugyan, Shapiro, actor-director Adjoa Andoh, poet Mary Jean Chan, and actor-comedian Robert Webb read 163 novels to create a strong group of finalists in New Voices.
If I Survive You and Western Lane are both debut novels.
Booker organizers said all the authors won accolades and prizes, even if they were not household names.
„They are not unknown writers,” says Gabby Wood, chief executive of the Booker Prize Foundation. „They are unknown to the Booker.”
The six authors include two women and four men — three of whom, coincidentally, named Paul.
This year’s winner will be announced at a ceremony in London on November 26. The Booker Prize, established in 1969, is open to novels from any country published in England and Ireland.
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