Booker Prize picks its youngest author to be short-listed

Lawrence Kim
September 22, 2018

The shortlist for the 2018 Man Booker Prize is revealed and it has three authors from the United Kingdom, two from the U.S. and one Canadian writer.

The writers include the UK's Anna Burns (Milkman) and Robin Robertson (The Long Take), American writers Rachel Kushner (The Mars Room) and Richard Powers (The Overstory) and, of course, Canada's Esi Edugyan for her acclaimed novel Washington Black.

The 27-year-old, one of the six on the shortlist for the literary fiction prize, has been recognised for her book Everything Under.

Chair of judges Kwame Anthony Appiah said that all six books chosen by the panel were "miracles of stylistic invention". And yet in every other respect they are remarkably diverse, exploring a multitude of subjects ranging across space and time.

"This is not a complaint against the very idea of a long, immersive read - one of the books on our shortlist is probably the longest book we read - but the chastening pencil has its role, and subtraction can be as potent as addition".

Rachel Kushner spent time in U.S. prisons to research The Mars Room, a gritty tale told from the perspective of a former lap-dancer serving two life sentences in an American women's jail. It is set against the grim backdrop of a women's prison. It grapples, in the words of Appiah, with "daily violence'". Edugyan is a Canadian author. The Canadian author was praised by panel judge Robson for having told the tale with "majestic grandeur".

On the novel, one of the judges, Val McDermid, said in the announcement of the shortlist that "the single word that sums up this beautifully written debut novel is "fluidity".

Powers has been selected for The Overstory, which sees nine strangers "summoned by trees".

"Each of the books shortlisted this year will speak to the reader now and in years to come".

A long read doesn't always make for a great novel, the Man Booker Prize judges have said, as they pleaded for editors to cut verbose works of fiction down to size.

The 2018 victor will be announced on October 16 at London's Guildhall at a gala dinner that brings together the shortlisted authors and well-known figures from the cultural world.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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