J.M. Coetzee, Madeleine Thien and Elizabeth Strout on Man Booker shortlist
Four first-time novelists join more well-established literary figures in the running for the £50,000 prize, plus (unusually) a work of crime fiction
Celebrated South African novelist J.M. Coetzee, US Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout and Chinese-Canadian writer Madeleine Thien are among the contenders announced for Britain’s prestigious Man Booker Prize for fiction.
Coetzee’s The Schooldays of Jesus and Strout’s My Name Is Lucy Barton are among the best-known titles on a 13-book longlist that spurned big-name writers including Ian McEwan and Don DeLillo in favour of less famous authors and first-time novelists.
Coetzee, who lives in Australia, is the early bookies’ favourite and will become the first triple Booker winner if he takes the prize. He won in 1983 with Life & Times of Michael K and in 1999 with Disgrace.
Strout won the fiction Pulitzer in 2009 for Olive Kitteridge, which was turned into a HBO miniseries starring Frances McDormand.
The eclectic list features four first novels – David Means’ Hystpoia, Wyl Menmuir’s The Many, Ottessa Moshfegh’s Eileen and Virginia Reeves’ Work Like Any Other – alongside established authors such as A.L. Kennedy for Serious Sweet and Deborah Levy for Hot Milk.
There’s also a rare nomination for a crime thriller, Graeme Macrae Burnet’s His Bloody Project.
The list includes six British writers (one of them, David Szalay, born in Canada), five Americans and the Canadian, Thien, for Do Not Say We Have Nothing.
Biographer Amanda Foreman, who chairs the five-member judging panel, says the books “provoked intense discussion and, at times, passionate debate, challenging our expectations of what a novel is and can be”.
Previously open to writers from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth, the Booker expanded in 2014 to include all English-language authors. Despite fears of US dominance, there has not yet been an American winner of the prize, which usually brings the victor a huge sales boost.
Six finalists will be announced on September 13 and the winner of the £50,000 (HK$511,120) prize will be named on October 25.