September 11, 2013
Shortlist for Booker Prize announced
by Alex Shephard
The shortlist for the 2013 Man Booker Prize, Britain’s most prestigious literary award, has been released. The six finalists are:
- We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
- The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
- The Harvest by Jim Crace
- The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
- A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
- The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín
The six books on the list could not be more diverse. There are examples from novelists from New Zealand, England, Canada, Ireland and Zimbabwe – each with its own highly distinctive taste. They range in size from the 832 pages of Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries to the 104-page The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín. The times represented stretch from the biblical Middle East (Tóibín) to contemporary Zimbabwe (NoViolet Bulawayo) by way of 19th-century New Zealand (Catton), 1960s India (Jumpha Lahiri), 18th-century rural England (Crace) and modern Tokyo (Ruth Ozeki). The oldest author on the list, Jim Crace, is 67, the youngest (indeed the youngest ever shortlistee), Eleanor Catton, is 28. Colm Tóibín has written more than 15 books, The Luminaries is only Catton’s second.
According to bookies—yes, people bet on the Booker Prize—Crace is currently the favorite, though I wouldn’t count Bulawayo or Catton, two tremendously talented and exciting young authors, out.
The award includes a cash prize of £50,000 ($80,000 in real money). Last year, it was won, to no one’s great surprise, by Hilary Mantel for Bring Up The Bodies, her sequel to Wolf Hall, after parliament decreed that Mantel must win every literary prize.
The Man Booker Prize is not (yet) sponsored by Bailey’s, or any other liqueur.
Alex Shephard is the director of digital media for Melville House, and a former bookseller.