Paul Auster, Emily Fridlund, Mohsin Hamid, Fiona Mozley, George Saunders and Ali Smith were yesterday announced as the six shortlisted authors for the 2017 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.
Their names were announced by 2017 Chair of judges, Lola, Baroness Young, at a press conference at the offices of Man Group, the prize sponsor.
The judges remarked that the novels, each in its own way, challenge and subtly shift our preconceptions — about the nature of love, about the experience of time, about questions of identity and even death.
The shortlist, which features three women and three men, covers a wide range of subjects, from the struggle of a family trying to retain its self-sufficiency in rural England to a love story between two refugees seeking to flee an unnamed city in the throes of civil war.
In the fourth year that the prize has been open to writers of any nationality, the shortlist is made up of two British, one British-Pakistani and three American writers.
Two novels from independent publishers, Faber & Faber and Bloomsbury, are shortlisted, alongside two from Penguin Random House imprint Hamish Hamilton and two from Hachette imprints, Weidenfeld & Nicolson and JM Originals.
The 2017 shortlist of six novels is:
4321 by Paul Auster (US) (Faber & Faber)
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (US) (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (UK-Pakistan) (Hamish Hamilton)
Elmet by Fiona Mozley (UK) (JM Originals)
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (US) (Bloomsbury Publishing)
Autumn by Ali Smith (UK) (Hamish Hamilton)
Lola, Baroness Young commented ‘With six unique and intrepid books that collectively push against the borders of convention, this year’s shortlist both acknowledges established authors and introduces new voices to the literary stage. Playful, sincere, unsettling, fierce: here is a group of novels grown from tradition but also radical and contemporary. The emotional, cultural, political and intellectual range of these books is remarkable, and the ways in which they challenge our thinking is a testament to the power of literature.’
Ali Smith makes the Man Booker shortlist for the fourth time (she was previously shortlisted for Hotel World in 2001, The Accidental in 2005 and How to Be Both in 2014). This year also sees a repeat shortlisting for Mohsin Hamid, who made the list in 2007 with The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
Hachette imprint JM Originals makes the shortlist for the first time with Fiona Mozley’s Elmet, which was the first ever acquisition of assistant editor Becky Walsh. Mozley is also the youngest author on the shortlist, aged 29, and one of two debut writers to make the list – the other being 38 year-old American Emily Fridlund with History of Wolves.
The other two American authors on the shortlist are Paul Auster and George Saunders. 4321 by Auster, who turned 70 this year, is the longest novel on the shortlist at 866 pages and, according to the author, took three and a half years, working 6 and a half days a week, to write. Lincoln in the Bardo, the first full-length novel by Saunders — an acclaimed short story writer and Folio Prize winner — completes the list.
Luke Ellis, CEO of Man Group, commentED, ‘Congratulations to each of the authors who have been shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize. The list represents a celebration of exceptional literary talent, ranging from established novelists to debut writers, that we are honoured to support. As well as playing an important role in recognising literary endeavour, the prize’s charitable activities underscore Man Group’s charitable focus on literacy and education and our commitment to creativity and excellence.’
The judging panel, chaired by Lola, Baroness Young, consists of: the literary critic, Lila Azam Zanganeh; the Man Booker Prize shortlisted novelist, Sarah Hall; the artist, Tom Phillips CBE RA; and the travel writer and novelist, Colin Thubron CBE.
The 2017 winner will be announced on Tuesday 17 October in London’s Guildhall, at a dinner that brings together the shortlisted authors and well-known figures from the literary world. The ceremony will be broadcast by the BBC.
In the meantime, there will be a number of public events featuring the shortlisted authors. These include an event at the Nottingham Lakeside Arts Theatre in partnership with Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature on Tuesday 10 October and two events at The Times & The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival on Saturday 14 October. The traditional Man Booker Prize readings will take place at the Southbank Centre on the eve of the prize, 16 October, hosted by broadcaster and author Gemma Cairney.
The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book. The winner will receive a further £50,000 and can expect international recognition.
The Booker Prize Foundation provides funding for the Royal National Institute of Blind People to ensure that braille, giant print & audio versions of the shortlisted books are available for the visually impaired in time for the winner announcement. The majority of this year’s shortlist is already available for readers in these formats. The Booker Prize Foundation has a longstanding partnership with RNIB to provide Man Booker Prize books to the tens of thousands of blind and partially sighted members of the RNIB Library.