Man Booker Shortlist Features 3 Brits, 2 Americans, 1 Aussie

In News by Dennis Abrams

Three Brits, two Americans, one Aussie make the cut for this year’s Man Booker Prize shortlist, the first year non-Commonwealth authors have been eligible.

By Dennis Abrams

Man Booker PrizeThe shortlisted authors for the 2014 Man Booker Prize for Fiction were announced today by this year’s chair of judges, AC Grayling.

The shortlist of six, taken from a longlist of 13 is:

  1. Joshua Ferris, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour (Viking), U.S.
  2. Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Chatto & Windus), Australia
  3. Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves (Serpent’s Tail), U.S.
  4. Howard Jacobson, J, (Jonathan Cape), Britain
  5. Neel Mukherjee, The Lives of Others (Chatto & Windus), Britain
  6. Ali Smith, How to be Both (Harrish Hamilton), Britain

AC Grayling spoke on behalf of the judges:

“We are delighted to announce our international shortlist. As the Man Booker Prize expands its borders, these six exceptional books take the reader on journeys around the world, between the UK, New York, Thailand, Italy, Calcutta and times past, present and future.

“We had a lengthy and intensive debate to whittle the list down to these six. It is a strong, thought-provoking shortlist which we believe demonstrates the wonderful depth and rage of contemporary fiction in English.”

This is the first list that reflects the diversity of the novel in English regardless of the author’s nationality, as the Man Booker Prize has now opened up to any author writing original in English and published in the UK. Previously, the prize was open to authors from the UK & Commonwealth, Republic of Ireland, and Zimbabwe.

Two authors are veterans of the Man Booker shortlist. Howard Jacobson won the prize in 2010 with The Finkler Question, while Ali Smith has been shortlisted twice before: for Hotel World in 2001 and The Accidental World in 2005.

At the Guardian, Allison Flood quoted Dan Lewis of Waterstones, who wrote:

“After all the controversy over rule changes the American contingent, in the form of Karen Joy Fowler and Joshua Ferris, is rather unassuming – in number at least. Ferris, who at 39 is the youngest author on this year’s list, perhaps hopes To Rise Again at a Decent Hour can emulate fellow listee Jacobson’s 2010 win: the last time a comic novel triumphed. Meanwhile Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves which has proved a hit with our booksellers and customers, will no doubt be hailed as a breath of fresh air – a highly readable answer to any accusations of stuffiness or impenetrability which are so often levelled against literary prizes.”

At the British betting site Ladbrokes, Mukherjee’s The Lives of Others is listed (for now) as the favorite to win at 2/1, followed by Smith at 3/1, Jacobson at 4/1, Flanagan at 5/1, Fowler at 6/1, and Ferris bringing up the rear at 12/1.

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.