Entertainment & Arts

Pulitzer winner makes Booker Prize shortlist

Booker books
Image caption The longlist of 13 books was trimmed down to a shortlist of six

A US Pulitzer Prize-winner and two British authors are among the six writers shortlisted for this year's Man Booker Prize.

Tom McCarthy and Sunjeev Sahota are on the list alongside Pulitzer winner Anne Tyler and fellow US writer Hanya Yanagihara, plus Jamaican Marlon James and Nigeria's Chigozie Obioma.

Australian author Richard Flanagan won last year's prize for his wartime novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

The winner is announced on 13 October.

The shortlist of authors and titles is as follows:

  • Marlon James (Jamaica), A Brief History of Seven Killings
  • Tom McCarthy (UK), Satin Island
  • Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria), The Fishermen
  • Sunjeev Sahota (UK), The Year of the Runaways
  • Anne Tyler (US), A Spool of Blue Thread
  • Hanya Yanagihara (US), A Little Life
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Media captionThe first sentence of each book on the shortlist

At 28 years old, Obioma is the youngest nominee and has been shortlisted for his debut novel, while Marlon James is the first Jamaican-born author to be nominated for the prize.

McCarthy is the only shortlisted author to have been nominated before, for C in 2010.

This year's prize continues the policy introduced last year of allowing all authors writing in English, regardless of nationality, to be considered for the award.

Before 2014, the prize - first presented in 1969 - was only open to authors from the UK and the Commonwealth, the Republic of Ireland and Zimbabwe.

The chairman of the judges, Michael Wood, said: "We are delighted by the diversity of the list but it is an accident. We were not looking for diversity.

"It suggests the novel is alive and well in different places."

Image copyright Man Booker Prize
Image caption Tyler won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1989 for Breathing Lessons
Image copyright Man Booker Prize
Image caption Obioma is shortlisted for his debut novel

Wood is joined on the 2015 panel of judges by Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, John Burnside, Sam Leith and Frances Osborne. The judges considered 156 books for this year's prize.

Analysis by Tim Masters, arts reporter

What a diverse list it is. Two authors from the UK, two from the US and one each from Jamaica and Nigeria.

The ages of the authors range from 28 to 73. Debut novelist Chigozie Obioma is up against Anne Tyler, whose Spool of Blue Thread is her 20th novel.

But, as some have noted, what unites the books is the grimness of their themes. The judges were asked about this at this morning's announcement at Man Booker HQ in London.

"They are pretty grim," admitted Michael Wood, chair of judges. "There is a tremendous amount of violence."

Sam Leith added: "Yes, they contain grim things but there isn't a single book that isn't touched with humour."

Wood said the discussions for the shortlist had lasted "a morning and an afternoon".

"The actual discussions were a joy. We had arguments that were violent but friendly."

The bookies' hot favourite is Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life, the story of four college friends who have moved to New York seeking fame and fortune.

If it stays on course, the Man Booker could have its first American winner in October.

Jonathan Ruppin from Foyles bookseller said: "It's very interesting to see that four of the six authors are non-white, beating 2013's record of three.

"It vindicates the opening up of the prize to all Anglophone writers, rather than just the antiquated category of the Commonwealth. English-language writing is a global phenomenon, blending a huge range of cultures, and the world's biggest literary award now reflects this far better."

Image copyright AP
Image caption McCarthy was previously nominated in 2010

The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book. The winner will receive a further cheque for £50,000.

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