The shortlist of nominees for the prestigious Man Booker literary award was announced today in London. On the one hand, as the Man Booker committee noted, it’s a diverse list. On the other hand, two of the short-listed nominees are American, which could make some British authors unhappy.
This is only the second year that the prestigious literary award has been open to writers who are not from a British Commonwealth country and that has been controversial in the U.K. The Man Booker is a much cherished prize in Britain and there are fears that Americans could overwhelm the field. Indeed, one of the Americans on the shortlist, Hanya Yanagihara, is the bookies’ favorite for her novel A Little Life.
But in announcing the shortlist, Michael Wood, who chairs the panel of judges, said these writers “present an extraordinary range of approaches to fiction. They come from very different cultures and are themselves at very different stages of their careers.”
The shortlist includes the best-selling, Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist Anne Tyler, nominated for A Spool of Blue Thread. Not only is Tyler the best known of the finalists, at 73, she is also the oldest. The youngest is 28-year-old Nigerian writer Chigozie Obioma, who was nominated for his debut novel, The Fishermen.
Two writers from the U.K. made the list, Tom McCarthy for Satin Island and Sunjeev Sahota for The Year of the Runaways. This is the second time McCarthy has been short-listed for the prize. Marlon James, author of A Brief History of Seven Killings, is the first Jamaican to make the shortlist.
The winner of the Man Booker will be announced at a ceremony on Oct. 13. The winner receives 50, 000 pounds (a little more than $76,000). It’s not only a prestigious award, it’s a lucrative one. It also has a reputation for giving a hefty boost to sales of the winning book.