Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
·Two first-time female
writers shortlisted – Emily Fridlund and Fiona Mozley, the youngest authors
from the longlist
·Joined by two previously
shortlisted authors Mohsin Hamid and Ali Smith, the latter making the list for
the fourth time
·List includes ‘six unique and
intrepid books that collectively push against the borders of convention’,
according to chair of judges
Paul Auster, Emily Fridlund, Mohsin Hamid, Fiona
Mozley, George Saunders and Ali Smith are today, Wednesday 13 September,
announced as the six shortlisted authors for the 2017 Man Booker Prize for
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 (Faber & Faber)
History of Wolves (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Exit West (Hamish Hamilton)
Lincoln in the Bardo (Bloomsbury Publishing)
Autumn (Hamish Hamilton)
Lola, Baroness Young comments:
‘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
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, comments:
‘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 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.