Paul Auster, Emily Fridlund, Mohsin Hamid, Fiona Mozley, George Saunders and Ali Smith have been announced as the six shortlisted authors for the 2017 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. They are now in the running for the £50,000 prize money.
In the fourth year that the prize has been open to writers of any nationality, the shortlist is made up of two British, one British-Pakistani and three American writers.
The judges remarked that the novels, each in their own way, challenge and subtly shift our preconceptions — about the nature of love, about the experience of time, about questions of identity and even death.
The judging panel, chaired by Lola, Baroness Young, consists of: the literary critic, Lila Azam Zanganeh; the Man Booker Prize shortlisted novelist, Sarah Hall; the artist, Tom Phillips CBE RA; and the travel writer and novelist, Colin Thubron CBE.
First awarded in 1969, the Man Booker Prize is recognised as the leading prize for high quality literary fiction written in English. Its list of winners includes many of the giants of the last four decades, from Salman Rushdie to Hilary Mantel, Iris Murdoch to Ian McEwan. The prize has also recognised many authors early in their careers, including Eleanor Catton, Aravind Adiga and Ben Okri.
The 2017 Man Booker Prize Shortlist
Paul Auster’s first novel in seven years. His greatest, most provocative, most heartbreaking, most satisfying work. A sweeping story of birthright and possibility, of love and the fullness of life itself. A masterpiece.
On March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born.
From that single beginning, Ferguson’s life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four Fergusons made of the same genetic material, four boys who are the same boy, will go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. Family fortunes diverge. Loves and friendships and intellectual passions contrast. Chapter by chapter, the rotating narratives evolve into an elaborate dance… Learn more.
The extraordinary first novel by the bestselling, Folio Prize-winning, National Book Award-shortlisted George Saunders, about Abraham Lincoln and the death of his eleven year old son, Willie, at the dawn of the Civil War
The American Civil War rages while President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son lies gravely ill. In a matter of days, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy’s body.
From this seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of realism, entering a thrilling, supernatural domain both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself trapped in a transitional realm – called, in Tibetan tradition, the bardo… Learn more.
Review by Sarah McDuling: I found myself completely lost in this beautifully written and highly atmospheric debut novel. Set in Minnesota, The History of Wolves is part mystery, part coming-of-age, and a completely mesmerizing reading experience.
Living in the remnants of a former commune with her unconventional and largely negligent parents, Linda has always felt like an outsider. When she starts babysitting for a family she perceives as being “normal”, she finds herself becoming very attached to them. And yet, is everything really as normal as it seems?
The History of Wolves is both elegantly crafted and richly detailed. The characters are not always very likeable, but so complex and nuanced that they seem to leap right off the page and into real life… Learn more.
In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, Saeed and Nadia share a cup of coffee, and he makes her smile. A few days later they go for dinner, and over time they share many more meals. They try not to notice the sound of bombs getting closer every night, the radio announcing new laws, the public executions.
Eventually the problem is too big to ignore: it’s not safe for Nadia to live alone, she must move in with Saeed’s family, even though they are not married and that too is a problem. Meanwhile, rumours are spreading of strange black doors in secret places across the city, doors that lead to London or San Francisco, Greece or Dubai. One day soon, when the streets are no longer usable, the time will come for Nadia and Saeed to seek out one such door, joining the great outpouring of those fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world… Learn more.
by Fiona Mozley
Daniel is heading north. He is looking for someone. The simplicity of his early life with Daddy and Cathy has turned sour and fearful. They lived apart in the house that Daddy built for them with his bare hands. They foraged and hunted. When they were younger, Daniel and Cathy had gone to school. But they were not like the other children then, and they were even less like them now. Sometimes Daddy disappeared, and would return with a rage in his eyes. But when he was at home he was at peace. He told them that the little copse in Elmet was theirs alone. But that wasn’t true. Local men, greedy and watchful, began to circle like vultures. All the while, the terrible violence in Daddy grew.
Atmospheric and unsettling, Elmet is a lyrical commentary on contemporary society and one family’s precarious place in it, as well as an exploration of how deep the bond between father and child can go… Learn more.
Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. That’s what it felt like for Keats in 1819. How about Autumn 2016? Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic, once-in-a-generation summer. Love is won, love is lost. Hope is hand-in-hand with hopelessness. The seasons roll round, as ever.
Ali Smith’s new novel is a meditation on a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, on what harvest means. It is the first installment of her Seasonal quartet—four stand-alone books, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as the seasons are)—and it casts an eye over our own time. Who are we? What are we made of? Shakespearean jeu d’esprit, Keatsian melancholy, the sheer bright energy of 1960s pop art: the centuries cast their eyes over our own history making… Learn more.
About the Contributor
Anastasia Hadjidemetri is the former editor of The Booktopian and star of Booktopia's weekly YouTube show, Booked with Anastasia. A big reader and lover of books, Anastasia relishes the opportunity to bring you all the latest news from the world of books.