By Dennis Abrams
The Associated Press reports that Pulitzer Prize-winner Jhumpa Lahiri and Irish novelist Colm Toibin are among the six finalists for the prestigious Man Booker Prize for fiction — a shortlist that also includes a first-time novelist and a Buddhist priest.
The following are this year’s finalists:
We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo (Chatt0 & Windus)
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (Granta)
Harvest by Jim Crace (Picador)
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (Bloomsbury)
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (Canongate)
The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin (Viking)
Writer Robert MacFarlane, head of this year’s judging panel, said that the six novels were “world-spanning in their concerns, and ambitious in their techniques.”
“It is a shortlist that shows the English language novel to be a form of world literature. It crosses continents, joins countries, and spans centuries,” he said.
British bookmaker William Hill named Catton, at 28 the youngest writer on the list as the favorite to win, followed closely by 67-year old Crace.
“Harvest, with its fragile lyricism, is the crowning achievement of Crace’s consistently outstanding career, while Catton is pushing the boundaries of what fiction can achieve, bringing the vagaries of astrology and the intricacies of the Golden Ratio into the very fabric of how she put The Luminaries together. I’ve not read anything, Man Booker nominated or not, that comes close to either this year.”
“Either book would be a thoroughly deserving winner, but Crace is probably the marginal favorite, if only because it’s easier to imagine five people concurring about Harvest than The Luminaries,” he said. “It would also be overdue recognition for a writer appreciated far more overseas than by British readers, while there’s absolutely no doubt that Catton has a career full of major awards ahead of her.”
Fun facts about this year’s nominees:
Both Jim Crace and Colm Toibin are previous Booker finalists. The other four writers, all women, are first time nominees.
NoViolet Bulawayo, a fellow at Stanford University, is the first writer from Zimbabwe to be a Booker finalist and the only debut novelist on the list.
Ruth Ozeki, who lives in Canada and New York, is also an ordained Zen Buddhist priest.
The winner will be announced in London on October 15th.
The Millions has links to excerpts of several of this year’s finalists available: