The Man Booker Dozen has been whittled down to an official short list of six, and there are a few shocks and surprises to be had among the final nominees.
Though Britain’s most prestigious literary award, just two novelists from the Man Booker homeland, Tom McCarthy and Sunjeev Sahota, have made the final six.
Literary critics have also been surprised to learn that established American author Marilynne Robinson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Orange prize and a National Humanities Medal bestowed by Barack Obama, is out of the running.
Announcing the shortlist in London today, chair judge Michael Wood said he was ‘delighted’ with the diversity of this year’s shortlist.
“We re-read all 13 books on the longlist and in the process we rediscovered new pleasures in each.”
“The writers on the shortlist present an extraordinary range of approaches to fiction. They come from very different cultures and are themselves at very different stages of their careers.”
Among the successful six are Marlon James with A Brief History of Seven Killings, the first Jamaican-born author to be ever shortlisted, Tom McCarthy with Satin Island, the only author on the list to have been nominated in previous years, plus Nigeria’s Chigozie Obioma with The Fishermen, who at 28 is the youngest author in the final stages.
Each author on the shortlist will receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book, while the overall winner will be announced at a ceremony in London on 13 October, where they'll win the grand prize of £50,000.
In the meantime, take a look at the shortlisted six below…
A Brief History of Seven Killings
By Jamaican author Marlon James
"On 3 December 1976, just weeks before the general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica concert to ease political tensions, seven men from West Kingston stormed his house with machine guns. Marley survived and went on to perform at the free concert. But the next day he left the country and didn’t return for two years. Inspired by this near-mythic event, A Brief History of Seven Killingstakes the form of an imagined oral biography, told by ghosts, witnesses, killers, members of parliament, drug dealers, conmen, beauty queens, FBI and CIA agents, reporters, journalists, and even Keith Richards' drug dealer."
£8.99, One World Publications
A Little Life
By American author Hanya Yanagihara
"A Little Life is a depiction of heartbreak, and a dark examination of the tyranny of memory and the limits of human endurance.
When four graduates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they're broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their centre of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he'll not only be unable to overcome - but that will define his life forever."
A Spool of Blue Thread
By American author Anne Tyler
"'It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon…’ This is the way Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she and Red fell in love that day in July 1959. The whole family on the porch, relaxed, half-listening as their mother tells the same tale they have heard so many times before. And yet this gathering is different. Abby and Red are getting older, and decisions must be made about how best to look after them and their beloved family home. They’ve all come, even Denny, who can usually be relied on only to please himself.
From that porch we spool back through three generations of the Whitshanks, witnessing the events, secrets and unguarded moments that have come to define who and what they are. And while all families like to believe they are special, round that kitchen table over all those years we see played out the hopes and fears, the rivalries and tensions of families everywhere – the essential nature of family life."
£18.99, Chatto & Windus
By British author Tom McCarthy
"A story about U. - a ‘corporate anthropologist’ working for an elite consultancy. U.’s employers have set him two tasks. First, he must assist in the launching of a great, epoch-defining project which no one, least of all its own architects, fully understands. Second, he has been asked to compose the seemingly impossible: the Great Report – an ethnographic document to sum up our age. Instead, procrastinating, meandering, drifting through endless buffer-zones of information, U. grows obsessed with the images with which the world bombards him on a daily basis: oil spills, African traffic jams, roller-blade processions, zombie parades. Is there a secret logic holding all these things together – a codex that, once cracked, will unlock the master-meaning of our times? Might it have something to do with South Pacific Cargo Cults, or the dead parachutists in the news? Perhaps; perhaps not."
£16.99, Jonathan Cape
By Nigerian author Chigozie Obioma
"The Fishermen is set in a small town in Nigeria in the mid-1990s. Four brothers, the youngest is nine, use their strict father's absence from home to go fishing in a forbidden river and encounter a dangerous local madman, Abulu, whose mystic prophecy of violence threatens the very core of their close-knit family.
He predicts that one of the brothers – a fisherman – will kill another. This evil prophecy of violence causes a deep rift between the brothers and starts to break the deep fraternal bonds, unleashing a tragic chain of events."
£14.99, ONE, Pushkin Press
The Year of the Runaways
By British author Sunjeev Sahota
"Thirteen young men live in a house in Sheffield, each in flight from India and in desperate search of a new life. Tarlochan, a former rickshaw driver, will say nothing about his past in Bihar; and Avtar has a secret that binds him to protect the choatic Randeep. Randeep, in turn, has a visa-wife in a flat on the other side of town: a clever, devout woman whose cupboards are full of her husband's clothes, in case the immigration men surprise her with a call.
Sweeping between India and England, and between childhood and the present day The Year of the Runaways is a story of an unlikely family thrown together by circumstance."
The winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize will be speaking at Stylist Live about their journey and how to get cracking on that award-winning novel. The talk will take place at 18.00 on Thursday 15th October and you can buy your ticket here.
Stylist Live is a four-day festival of cocktails, culture, catwalks and conversation hosted by Edith Bowman and Dawn O’Porter on Thursday 15 – Sunday 18 October 2015.