It’s official; Paul Beatty has become the first ever American to win the prestigious Man Booker Prize for his book, The Sellout.
The author’s third book, described as a “caustic satire” on US racial politics, was hailed as “a novel for our times” by chair of the judges Amanda Foreman.
She added that the judges had been unanimous in their decision, which was made at a four-hour meeting on the evening of the 25 October; the author was presented with the prize, worth £50,000, at a black tie dinner shortly thereafter.
Clearly emotional while making his speech, the 54-year old said: "I hate writing... [and] this is a hard book.
"It was a hard for me to write, I know it's hard to read. Everyone's coming at it from different angles."
Read more: 50 books that were banned
Beatty's book did not have an easy ride to the top; this year's competition for the world's most prestigious literary prize was extremely fierce.
Speaking about the longlist, Foreman said: "This is a very exciting year.
"The range of books is broad and the quality extremely high. Each novel provoked intense discussion and, at times, passionate debate, challenging our expectations of what a novel is and can be."
Here are the 13 books which were in line for the £50,000 award:
The Sellout by Paul Beatty (US) (Oneworld)
Our Man Booker Prize winner, not to mention the winner of National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction in the US, this biting satire on US racial politics has received much love and hype from readers.
The Schooldays of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee (South African-Australian) (Harvill Secker)
"When you travel across the ocean on a boat, all your memories are washed away and you start a completely new life. That is how it is. There is no before. There is no history. The boat docks at the harbour and we climb down the gangplank and we are plunged into the here and now. Time begins." So begins the latest book from Nobel-Prize winning and former Booker nominee Coetzee.
Serious Sweet by A.L. Kennedy (UK) (Jonathan Cape)
“A family sits on a Tube train. They are all in a row and taking the Piccadilly Line.” Thus starts Kennedy’s heartfelt tale of two people moving through London over 24 hours - and it’s a pure pleasure to read but may not have that killer edge.
Hot Milk by Deborah Levy (UK) (Hamish Hamilton)
Like Strout’s long-listed title, Hot Milk explores mother-daughter relationships and all the torment and joy that they can bring (urk). With a prose that is lush and poetic, it’s sometimes a tricky book to love but remains a must-read.
His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet (UK) (Contraband)
The breakout author of this list is Macrae Burnet. While His Bloody Project didn’t get widely reviewed on its release, but it sure as heck will now. Described in shades of Robert Louis Stevenson, this irresistible and original story reminds us of the provisional nature of truth, even when the facts seem clear.
The North Water by Ian McGuire (UK) (Scribner UK)
With nods to Dickens, Melville and Conrad, The North Water is a thriller set on a 19th century whaling ship with a killer aboard. Unifying both a riveting story with plot twists galore, it's proven to be a favourite with readers trying the whole list.
Hystopia by David Means (US) (Faber & Faber)
The iconic cover of Hystopia meant this title stood out from the crowd this year but as we all know you can’t judge a book on that measure alone. Set during the (fictional) second term of President John F Kennedy, it’s raucous, raw and mind-bending.
The Many by Wyl Menmuir (UK) (Salt)
One of the six UK authors to get the nod, Menmuir’s tale of an outsider arriving in an inhospitable coastal village is unsettling and dark. It’s a tricky read but then most excellent Booker longlist choices are.
Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh (US) (Jonathan Cape)
Stylist loved this when we picked it up earlier this year. It’s creepy with hints of Hitchcock and the sign of major, major writing talent.
Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves (US) (Scribner UK)
“A prideful electrician in 1920s rural Alabama struggles to overcome past sins and find peace after being sent to prison for manslaughter.” This is Reeves’ first book and is an astounding debut. It’s a well-deserved inclusion on the list that should get it the audience it warrants.
My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout (US) (Viking)
This is a slight book but everyone we’ve spoken to who’s read it (including an overexcited bookstore assistant) is evangelical about it. Telling the story of another mother-daughter via the course of a hospital visit, it’s beautifully written and compelling.
All That Man Is by David Szalay (Canada-UK) (Jonathan Cape)
Composed of nine separate stories, this was a big hit with critics when it was released in April slowly moving through different characters all slightly older than the one before.
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien (Canada) (Granta Books)
This is an epic in every sense of the word: moving from Vancouver in 1991 to 50 brutal years in China. It’s one of those books that’s been bubbling away on the grapevine and is inspiring some serious respect and love. It’s also the sort of ambitious writing that Booker judges love…
The shortlist of six books was announced on Tuesday 13 September, revealing that The Sellout, Hot Milk, His Bloody Project, Eileen, All That Man Is, and Do Not Say We Have Nothing had made it to the shortlist.
Paul Beatty’s The Sellout was crowned the 2016 Man Booker winner on Tuesday 25 October.
Photos: Rex Features