London: Three British writers, two Americans and an Australian are finalists for the prestigious Booker Prize for fiction, open to US authors for the first time.
The British nominees, announced Tuesday, are Ali Smith’s dual-narrative story How to Be Both, Howard Jacobson’s futuristic dystopia J and Neel Mukherjee’s Kolkata-set The Lives of Others. The US is represented by Joshua Ferris cyber-identity tale To Rise Again at a Decent Hour and Karen Joy Fowler’s unusual family story, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. Australia’s Richard Flanagan is nominated for The Narrow Road to the Deep North, a wartime love story.
Bookmaker William Hill made Jacobson—who won the prize in 2010 for The Finkler Question—and Smith the joint 3/1 favourites.
The high-profile authors who did not make the cut from the 13-book longlist included Irish-American writer Joseph O’Neill, for The Dog, and David Mitchell, for The Bone Clocks.
“That’s just how the cards fell," said philosopher A.C. Grayling, chairman of the Booker Prize judging panel. He said it was a “very, very rich year" for fiction.
This is the first year writers of all nationalities have been eligible for the Booker, previously open only to authors from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth of dozens of former British colonies.
Some British writers have expressed fears that the change in eligibility may lead to US dominance of the 46-year-old award, officially named the Man Booker Prize after its sponsor, financial services firm Man Group Plc. The winner of the £50,000 ($80,000) prize will be announced at a ceremony in London on 14 October.