Man Booker Prize 2013: Short-list announced.

September 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

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The Man Booker Prize promotes the finest in fiction by rewarding the very best book of the year.  The prize is among the world’s most important literary awards and has the power to transform the fortunes of authors and publishers.  Last Tuesday, 10 September, the field of books eligible for the prize was narrowed to a short-list of six.

As Commonwealth prize, the shortlist reflects the common wealth of many nations, many imaginations.  It registers not only a multicultural world, but its migratory visions.

The six books on the list could not be more diverse.  There are examples from novelists from New Zealand, England, Canada, Ireland and Zimbabwe – each with its own highly distinctive taste.  They range in size from the 832 pages of Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries to the 104-page The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín.  The times represented stretch from the biblical Middle East (Tóibín) to contemporary Zimbabwe (NoViolet Bulawayo) by way of 19th-century New Zealand (Catton), 1960s India (Jumpha Lahiri), 18th-century rural England (Crace) and modern Tokyo (Ruth Ozeko).  The oldest author on the list, Jim Crace, is 67, the youngest (indeed the youngest ever shortlistee), Elanor Catton, is 28.  Colm Tóibín has written more than 15 books, The Luminaries is only Catton’s second.

The dark requiems of Tóibín and Crace; the comical philosophical acrobatics of Ozeki and Catton, and the heartfelt protests of Bulawayo and Lahiri form a marvellous list of books; perhaps the best shortlist in a decade.  The selection does what it is meant to do: advocate for new fiction in general, and these superb books in particular.  As the chair of this year’s judging panel, Robert MacFarlane, explained when announcing the shortlist: “We were drawn to novels that sought to extend the possibilities of the form… We wanted novel novels.”  And that is what they found, six books that resist generic categories and divert from formal expectations.

The winner of the Man Booker Prize 2013 is announced 15 October.

The Man Booker Prize Short-list 2013:

  • The Luminaries – Elanor Catton
  • The Testament of Mary – Colm Toibin
  • We Need New Names – NoViolet Bulawayo
  • The Harvest – Jim Crace
  • The Lowland – Lumpha Lahiri
  • A Tale for the Time Being – Ruth Ozeki
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