Entertainment & Arts

Man Booker Prize 2015: At a glance

Man Booker 2015 authors: (clockwise from top left) Sunjeev Sahota, Anne Tyler, Tom McCarthy, Chigozie Obioma, Hanya Yanagihara, Marlon James Image copyright Man Booker
Image caption Man Booker 2015 authors: (clockwise from top left) Sunjeev Sahota, Anne Tyler, Tom McCarthy, Chigozie Obioma, Hanya Yanagihara, Marlon James

Marlon James, Tom McCarthy, Chigozie Obioma, Sunjeev Sahota, Anne Tyler and Hanya Yanagihara are the shortlisted authors for the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

It is the second year that the prize is open to all authors writing in English, regardless of nationality.

This year's shortlist features two authors from the UK, two from the US and one each from Jamaica and Nigeria.

Here is a brief guide to the six books.

Image copyright Oneworld

A Brief History of Seven Killings

By Marlon James (Jamaica)

Published by Oneworld

About the book: Exploring the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the late 1970s, events unfold over three decades through the lives of drug barons, MPs, gunmen, beauty queens, journalists and even the CIA.

About the author: Born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1970, James's debut novel was John Crow's Devil. His second, The Book of Night Women, won the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize and was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award.

The judges said: "The title misrepresents its heft and its body count. This vast fictional history which spirals out from the politics and gang violence of 1970s Jamaica is exhilarating in its range of voices and registers: swaggering, brutal, elegiac, sardonic, humorous, tender and profane. And what a story - it knocks your socks off."

The reviews said: "Seven Killings resembles James Ellroy's LA Quartet in its blistering violence, multiple voices and its determination to redo history 'from the gutter to the star', to borrow a phrase used by Ellroy." The Telegraph

Image copyright Jonathan Cape

Satin Island

By Tom McCarthy (UK)

Published by Jonathan Cape

About the book: Set in contemporary London, Satin Island tells the story of U - a "corporate anthropologist" working for an elite consultancy who embarks on a data-gathering project to help "decode and manipulate the world around them".

About the author: McCarthy was born in 1969 and grew up in London. His books include Remainder (2006), Men in Space (2007), and C (2010) - which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. In 1999, he created the International Necronautical Society (INS), a "semi-fictitious organisation" that combines literature, art and philosophy.

The judges said: "Satin Island offers an elegant, desperate and funny account of what might well be the world of tomorrow if it weren't already the world of today."

The reviews said: "It provokes and beguiles and, at the point of revelation, it withholds. On finishing it, you will have the powerful urge to throw it across the room, then the powerful urge to pick it up to read again." The Telegraph

Image copyright One

The Fishermen

By Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria)

Published by One

About the book: Four young brothers in a small Nigerian town take advantage of their father's absence to go fishing at a forbidden river. But there they encounter a madman, who makes a prophecy that the eldest will be killed by one of his brothers.

About the author: The Fishermen is Chigozie Obioma's first novel. Born in 1986 in Akure, Nigeria, Obioma's short stories have appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review and New Madrid. He has lived in Nigeria, Cyprus and Turkey, and now in the US.

The judges said: "Obioma's The Fishermen is the captivating tale of the tragic unravelling of a family in modern day Nigeria. He imbues the story with a compelling sense of deep-rooted and unstoppable inevitability, writing with striking maturity for a young first-time writer."

The reviews said: "The Fishermen is an elegy to lost promise, to a golden age squandered, and yet it remains hopeful about the redemptive possibilities of a new generation - what I like to call the 'post-nationalist generation', described as 'egrets' in the book: harbingers of a bright future." The Guardian

Image copyright Picador

The Year of the Runaways

By Sunjeev Sahota (UK)

Published by Picador

About the book: A group of immigrant Indian labourers share a dilapidated house in Sheffield in search of a new life.

About the author: Sahota was one of is a Granta's Best of British Novelist 2013. Born in 1981 in Derbyshire, his debut novel was Ours are the Streets, published in 2011.

The judges said: "As much sorrow and damage as there is in these lives, no-one here is asking for pity. These characters are genuine seekers on the lookout for second chances in a world which seems at times to offer not even one chance."

The reviews said: "This novel captures the growing realisation for new arrivals in Britain that life here can be just as hard - if not harder - than the one they left behind." The Independent

Image copyright Chatto & Windus

A Spool of Blue Thread

By Anne Tyler (US)

Published by Chatto & Windus

About the book: A saga that unfolds through three generations of middle-class Baltimore family the Whitshanks.

About the author: This is Tyler's 20th novel. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941, her first book, If Morning Ever Comes, was published in 1964. She won the Pulitzer prize for Breathing Lessons (1988). Her novel The Accidental Tourist (1985) was adapted into a film starring William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, and Geena Davis. A Spool of Blue Thread was also nominated for this year's Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction.

The judges said: "She demonstrates once again her supreme powers of observation, and the stylistic brilliance that have marked her work through 50 extraordinary years."

The reviews said: "Tyler never mocks her characters. Even when she's having fun with their weird peculiarities and transparent short-sightedness, she's usually a benevolent goddess. And yet it's her surprising brutality that kills off any germs of sentimentality in her work." Washington Post

Image copyright Picador

A Little Life

By Hanya Yanagihara (US)

Published by Picador

About the book: The story of four college friends who have moved to New York seeking fame and fortune. At the centre of the tale is the enigmatic Jude, an orphan with a painful past.

About the author: Born in Los Angeles in 1975, Yanagihara is the author of The People in the Trees, which was shortlisted for the PEN/Robert W Bingham Prize for debut fiction. She is an editor-at-large at Conde Nast Traveller and lives in New York.

The judges said: "A Little Life is a work of lasting emotional impact, often larger than life itself, as [Yanagihara] delicately balances the horrors of a traumatic childhood with the story of selfless enduring tenderness and devotion."

The reviews said: "Somehow, against all the odds, just like its protagonist, this book survives everything its author throws at it - and if it doesn't quite triumph, it has far outplayed the odds." The Guardian

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