Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

The Man Booker shortlist is announced

From a long-list of 13 novels, we're down to six competing for the big 50,000 prize.

Drum roll please, the Man Booker Prize shortlist has just been announced. From a long-list of 13 novels, we're down to six competing for the big 50,000 prize (Dh290,000). The six runners are: Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey; Room by Emma Donoghue; In A Strange Room by Damon Galgut; The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson; The Long Song by Andrea Levy and C by Tom McCarthy. Surprising, some will doubtless say, that David Mitchell's The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet didn't make it. Nor did another well-established writer, Rose Tremain, earn herself a spot with Trespass. Missing from the list, too, is Christos Tsiolkas' controversial The Slap, much discussed recently for its opening scene in which a father at a suburban barbecue hits a child that isn't his own.

Carey and McCarthy are now the joint favourites for the prize. If the former takes it, he will make history as the first author ever to win the prize three times, having won in 1988 and 2001. So, if you've only just finished reading last year's Booker winner, Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, now is not the time to sit back and congratulate yourself. Get going with this lot. You only have just over a month until October 12 when the victor will be announced at the usual black-tie dinner in London.

To say it's been a controversial year for the Booker Prize is something of a misnomer. For the Booker, every year is riven by spats and barbs about who makes which list and who doesn't, as befits a prize often referred to as the most important literary nod in the English-spoken world. This year, there were general murmurings of surprise when the two-time nominee Martin Amis failed to make even the long-list for his latest opus, The Pregnant Widow. And, a few erudite eyebrows were raised when six-time nominee and one-time winner Ian McEwan failed to make it with his eco-novel, Solar. Still, you can't win them all, chaps.

Since the Booker's beginnings, in 1969, there have been plenty of those who have lost out when perhaps they were more deserving, and vice versa. One of the most controversial of all Booker judgments remains Keri Hulme's the bone people about the Maori people and which contains graphic detail about child beatings. Picked as the 1985 winner, it caused two of the judges (Nina Bawden and Joanna Lumley) to publicly distance themselves from the decision. On the other hand, there are those who claim that one of the Booker's greatest success stories, Thomas Keneally's Schindler's Ark, should never have been allowed because it wasn't technically a work of fiction. And yet it still swiped the prize and went on to sell well over a million copies.

The judges themselves have been known to make news. In 1991 Nicholas Moseley walked off the jury on the basis that his fellow judges were not interested in novels "of ideas". In 1971, Malcolm Muggeridge complained that it was impossible to get through the long-list and withdrew his services, complaining that the "sex bits" were upsetting him. In 1994, the critic and novelist James Wood forgot to tell his fellow panel that one of the books being considered for the shortlist was by his wife, Claire Messud.

Then there's the evening of the announcement, also often the scene of a drama. In 1980, Anthony Burgess said he wouldn't attend the ceremony unless his book won (it didn't), reportedly because he hated wearing black tie. In 1983, Fay Weldon's literary agent was smacked by the chairman of the Publishers' Association because of a speech she gave reproaching publishers for the deals they offered writers. In 1998, the jury's chair, Douglas Hurd, made a speech so long that the UK's 10 O'Clock News nearly missed out on hearing that Ian McEwan had won.

And what to do with the prize money? In 1972, John Berger won with G and promptly announced that he was giving half his money to the Black Panthers. In 1990, AS Byatt said it would go on a longed-for swimming pool in Provence. In 2003, the enfant-terrible turned writer DBC Pierre said it would go straight to those he owed. Not long now to find out whether this year's victor has similarly lofty aims.

Sophia Money-Coutts

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Hajer Almosleh, the winner of the last year's short story competition, at her home in Dubai. Duncan Chard for the National

Get involved with The National’s short-story competition

Writers have two weeks to craft a winning submission, under the title and theme "The Turning Point".

 It is believed that the desert-like planet of Tatooine is being recreated for Star Wars: Episode VII. Could that be where filming in the UAE comes in? Courtesy Lucasfilms

Could the force be with us? The search for Star Wars truth

On the hunt for the Star Wars: Episode VII set, which a growing number of people are sure is in Abu Dhabi, but no one can seem to find.

 With an estimated 18,000 comic and film fans having already paid a visit to this weekend’s Middle East Film and Comic Con, organisers are hopeful they will have surpassed last year total, of 21,000, by its close. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

In pictures: Middle East Film and Comic Con in Dubai

Dubai's World Trade Center was awash with people visiting this weekend’s Middle East Film and Comic Con. Here's some of our best pictures.

 Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, presents Quincy Jones with the Abu Dhabi Festival Award as the Admaf founder Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo applauds. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Festival.

A candid talk with Quincy Jones about the UAE, Lil Wayne and the Abu Dhabi Festival award

The Abu Dhabi Festival honoree Quincy Jones discusses his legendary career as a music producer, the return of Dubai Music Week and why he can’t handle the rapper Lil Wayne.

 Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge arrive at Wellington Military Terminal on an RNZAF 757 from Sydney on April 7, 2014 in Wellington, New Zealand. Chris Jackson / Getty Images

In pictures: Will and Kate visit Australia and New Zealand

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge are on a tour Down Under for three weeks.

 A protester gives a victory sign during clashes near Tahrir Square in Cairo in November 2011. Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

Street life: humanity’s future depends on ability to negotiate and sustain public space

Negotiating our ever more crowded cities and maintaining vibrant public spaces are among the major challenges facing humanity in the coming decades.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National