Published: Wed, September 13, 2017
Culture | By Stewart Greene

Paul Auster among diverse 2017 Man Booker Prize shortlist

Paul Auster among diverse 2017 Man Booker Prize shortlist

Arundhati Roy, who won the 1997 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for The God of Small Things, has failed to make it to the short-list for the prize's 2017 edition though her second novel, The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness, was on the long-list. British bookmakers Ladbrokes and William Hill have made Saunders the front-runner among the six titles vying for the 50,000-pound (around 55,000-euro) prize.

Instead, judges selected short story writer Saunders's first novel Lincoln in the Bardo, which takes follows U.S. president Abraham Lincoln as he visits the grave of his son Willie, and Auster's 4321, a novel that judges called "magisterial", about a boy called Archibald Isaac Ferguson, whose life takes four simultaneous fictional paths. The victor will be announced on October 17.

Fiona Mozley's debut novel Elmet tells the story - through the eyes of a child - of a bare-knuckle fighter bringing up his kids.

Lincoln In The Bardo is about a single night in the life of Abraham Lincoln, when he lays to rest his son in a cemetery.

Alongside Saunders, the USA contenders are Auster's story of parallel lives, "4321", and Emily Fridlund's Midwest coming-of-age tale "History of Wolves".

Also left out were favourites such as Zadie Smith, Sebastian Barry and Colson Whitehead, whose speculative slavery narrative The Underground Railroad won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction earlier this year.

The fresh list includes Paul Auster's 4321, Emily Fridlund's History of Wolves, Pakistan-UK writer Mohsin Hamid's Exit West, Elmet by Fiona Mozley, Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders and Ali Smith's Autumn.

Founded in 1969 and originally open only to writers from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth, the Booker expanded in 2014 to include all English-language authors.

U.S. author Paul Beatty won in 2016 was for his novel "The Sellout".

The change spurred fears among some British writers and publishers that it would bring US dominance to a prize whose previous winners include Salman Rushdie, Ben Okri, Margaret Atwood and Hilary Mantel.

Thirty percent of the 144 books submitted by publishers were American, slightly down on a year ago.

The announcement of the shortlist precedes the prize-giving ceremony on October 17, when the final victor for 2017 will be revealed.

Young said discussion had been "robust", but there had been "no fights - yet".

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