The 2017 Man Booker Prize shortlist has been announced, and it’s somewhat surprising. The six novels are:
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (Bloomsbury)
4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster (Faber & Faber)
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Hamish Hamilton)
Elmet by Fiona Mozley (JM Originals, John Murray)
Autumn by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)
Among the surprises this year is the diversity of experience. George Saunders and Paul Auster are well-established American writers, though Lincoln in the Bardo is Saunders’s (excellent) first novel. These two greats are up against two debut novelists: Fiona Mozley and Emily Fridlund. Lastly, Ali Smith and Mohsin Hamid have both previously been on the Booker shortlist.
Lincoln in the Bardo is told from the perspective of, essentially, a choir of ghosts after Abraham Lincoln’s son, Willie, dies. Willie is one of the ghosts. It’s a moving, experimental novel with Saunders’s signature wry sense of humor.
4 3 2 1 is similarly experimental, following Archibald Isaac Ferguson as his journey splits off into four divergent, simultaneous tales.
History of Wolves follows a teenage girl’s experience in a cult. The chilly Minnesota setting is just right.
Exit West is about refugees who can walk through doors in order to quickly, mysteriously get to other parts of the world.
Elmet follows a family who moves to Yorkshire’s West Riding, Elmet, but things take a distinctly medieval turn. As her debut, Mozley puts her Ph.D. (candidacy) in medieval history to use in Elmet.
Ali Smith’s Autumn is a post-Brexit novel, and marks her fourth time making the Man Booker shortlist in less than twenty years.
With some notable snubs (Colson Whitehead’s National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning The Underground Railroad), and heavy focus on American writers, this year’s Man Booker shortlist is raising some eyebrows in the literary community. What’s not in doubt is the talent of these six writers. We’ll find out the winner of the £50,000 prize on October 17th. Until then, it’s time to catch up on these great reads!
Feature Images Via HuffPost, NY Daily News, MPR News, LA Times, Sky News, and Alchetron