The formerly announced 13-nominee Man Booker Prize for Fiction long list has been reduced to a 6-nominee shortlist. Still in the running are U.S. writers Ottessa Moshfegh’s Eileen and Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, Scottish author Graeme Macrae Burnet’s His Bloody Project (which has gotten a lot of attention for its nomination due to its having been published by a small, crime fiction-centric press, and transcending obscurity by being, according to a Guardian review, “a fiendishly readable tale that richly deserves the wider attention the Booker has brought it”), Canadian author Madeleine Thien’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing, Canadian born British writer David Szalay’s All That Man Is, and British writer Deborah Levy’s Hot Milk. (Renowned authors J.M. Coetzee and Elizabeth Strout, whose presences were noted on the longlist, were left out here; it’s no tragedy for Coetzee, who was the first author to win the prize twice.)
Beatty’s scathing satirical novel (which follows a man who reinstates slavery), which NPR dubbed perhaps “the first truly great satirical novel of the century” seems like a frontrunner. Moshfegh’s psychological thriller about a relationship between workers at a New England prison is also getting a lot of attention. (Moshfegh also happens to be the youngest writer nominated this year, at 35.)
Hot Milk, about a 25 year old traveling to Spain with her mother to seek help for a strange and mercurial illness, was described by the New York Times as a “web of violent beauty and poetical ennui.” Do Not Say We Have Nothing follows members of a Chinese family across two generations (as a young member of the family in Canada puts together their history) whose experiences are often determined by the country’s shifting political climate, from Mao’s Cultural Revolution to the student-led (and tragically, brutally ended) protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989. The Guardian called it “a vivid, magisterial novel that reaches back to China’s civil war and up to the present day.” All That Man Is is separated into nine sections representing different stages in different mens’ lives across Europe; “Modern masculinity, scrabbling after sex and status, does not come out of All that Man Is looking particularly hale and hearty,” said the Telegraph.
Man Booker Prize Chair Amanda Foreman said about the selection:
The Man Booker prize subjects novels to a level of scrutiny that few books can survive. In rereading our incredibly diverse and challenging longlist, it was both agonising and exhilarating to be confronted by the sheer power of the writing.