In a year that saw landmark books written by the big names of British fiction — Rushdie, Barnes, Coetzee, McEwan, and Ali and Zadie Smith to name a few — the big question preceding this year’s Man Booker shortlist announcement was as much “who will be left out?” as “who will be kept in?”
Among the ranks of longlisted books that didn’t make it are Nobel Prize-winner and two-time Booker-winner J.M. Coetzee’s Slow Man and books by two other past Booker Prize recipients, Salman Rushdie and Ian McEwan.
There are few surprises among the shortlisted books. Each of them was written by an established novelist, with the possible exception of Sebastian Barry, better known as a playwright than as a long form fiction writer.
This year’s Booker shortlist includes John Banville’s The Sea (Picador); Julian Barnes’ Arthur & George (Jonathan Cape); Sebastian Barry’s A Long Long Way (Faber & Faber); Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (Faber & Faber); Ali Smith’s The Accidental (Hamish Hamilton); and Zadie Smith’s On Beauty (Hamish Hamilton). The bookmakers at William Hill favour the thrice-shortlisted Julian Barnes with 5/4 odds.
The winner will receive £50,000 with a guaranteed increase in sales and recognition worldwide. Each of the six shortlisted authors, including the winner, will receive £2,500 and a designer bound edition of their own book. The winner will be announced on October 10 in a televised ceremony.
Click here for the official Man Booker website
Click here for commentary by Louise Jury of The Independent
Click here for commentary by John Ezard of The Guardian