The Man Booker Prize finalists were announced Thursday, with three U.K. authors (Daisy Johnson, Robin Robertson, and Anna Burns) two Americans (Rachel Kushner and Richard Powers), and one Canadian (Esi Edugyan) earning a spot on the list.
The Prize’s judging panel already made waves in the literary community earlier this year with the announcement of their longlist, which included five surprisingly young novelists as well as the first-ever graphic novel to be nominated.
That said, only one millennial author made the final shortlist: Johnson, who at 27 is the youngest author ever to be nominated. Another unusual selection on the shortlist is Robertson’s novel in verse, The Long Take.
Use of language played a big part in the final selection, says panel chair Kwame Anthony Appiah: “All of our six finalists are miracles of stylistic invention. In each of them the language takes centre stage,” he said in yesterday’s press release.
The panel also looked for a balance of timeliness and timelessness. “These books speak very much to our moment, but we believe that they will endure,” reported Appiah. The final winner will be announced on October 16.
While all novels on the list are critically acclaimed, many of the authors’ names may be new to American readers. Here’s a quick guide to the novels on the shortlist.
By Anna Burns
Belfast-born author Anna Burns is no stranger to the literary shortlist; her novel No Bones was a finalist for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly called the Orange Prize). Milkman stars an unnamed protagonist, referred to as “middle sister,” whose life changes when she meets the creepy titular character. “Milkman is both a story of Belfast and its particular sins but it is also a story of anywhere,” writes the Irish Times, calling it an “impressive, wordy, often funny book” that “confirms Anna Burns as one of our rising literary stars.”