The Man Booker Prize
The Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2018 Shortlist
Once again, the Man Booker Prize presents a feast of first class new reading with this morning’s revelation of the 2018 shortlist. One or two longlist favourites have fallen (both Sally Rooney’s second book Normal People, former Booker-winner Michael Ondaatje’s Warlight, and Nick Drnaso’s Sabrina, the first graphic novel to appear on a Man Booker longlist), but every title remaining brims with something fresh and remarkable.
From veteran talent Richard Powers compelling us to consider nature in a profoundly new way to Daisy Johnson (in what is her debut novel) taking English myth and rendering it modern, once again the Man Booker jury provide a shortcut to the finest of the year’s contemporary fiction.
The ultimate winner of this year’s Man Booker Prize will be revealed on the evening of Tuesday 16 October.
The highly-regarded poet Robin Robertson transposes his skills of verse toward fiction in The Long Take. Chronicling the drift of a Canadian D-Day veteran across post-war America, his rapture for the Hollywood dream allows Robertson to breathtakingly fuse poetry, cinema and the traditions of noir into a moving elegy for a lost age. ‘The Long Take seems like a poem that’s long been waiting to be written,’ praised the Los Angeles Review of Books. ‘Though rooted in a specific time and place, the… larger theme is the capacity of greed and politics to turn hope into despair.’
Orange Prize (now Women's Prize for Fiction) shortlister Anna Burns presents a darkly wry - but disquieting – coming of age in her third novel Milkman. The setting is a thinly-disguised Belfast of the Troubles; the drama focuses on its nameless, 18-year-old narrator and her affair with the somewhat sinister ‘Milkman’, a much older married man allied with the paramilitaries. ‘Milkman is both a story of Belfast and its particular sins but it is also a story of anywhere,’ noted the Irish Times. ‘It reminded me of China Mieville’s The City and the City where identity, names and seeing the Other are contentious acts. Milkman shares this level of ambition; it is an impressive, wordy, often funny book.’
The Oedipal myth of divided families, inter-generational rivalry and twisted fate is vividly reimagined in Daisy Johnson’s debut novel Everything Under, the much-anticipated follow-up to her Edge Hill Short Story Prize-winning collection Fen. Set in a remote cottage in the British countryside, the novel centres on the complex and fractured relationship between an isolated young lexicographer and her mother, a woman gradually succumbing to dementia. ‘A deeply involving, unsettling novel that pulls the reader into a uniquely eerie yet recognisable world.’ - The Times
Previously shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for her novel, Half Blood Blues, Canadian author Esi Edugyan has crafted a dazzlingly inventive new story of antebellum-era slavery and exploration that spans the globe. At the heart of Washington Black is the relationship between an 11-year-old slave and an abolitionist inventor; a friendship that crosses lines of segregation and opens the door to a whirlwind flight to freedom. ‘A gripping tale,’ stated the New Statesman, ‘made vivid by Esi Edugyan’s gifts for language and character, and by the strength of her story… [the] reader feels honoured to have kept Wash company on his journeying.’
The third novel from American author Rachel Kushner, The Mars Room follows convict Romy Hall as she begins two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women's Correctional Facility. Contrasting Romy’s chaotic life outside with the dog-eat-dog world of violence and gang society that prison life engenders, The Mars Room is a visceral, unflinching portrait of contemporary incarceration. As the Spectator comments, Kushner ‘succeeds beautifully, rendering visible the sequences of injustice and exploitation that underpin our society, yet never losing sight of the individual lives those processes depend on and destroy.’
Poetic and profound, Richard Powers’ thirteenth novel The Overstory is a mosaic of stories spanning time and space, joined together by the overarching strata of the world’s trees and a mission to save the last virgin forest. Told in a mode that echoes the compositional dexterity of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, the real power of The Overstory lies in its ability to bring readers in sympathy with a network that exists alongside – and yet is alien to - our own. ‘A visionary, accessible legend for the planet that owns us, its exaltation and its peril, a remarkable achievement by a great writer.’ – The Daily Telegraph
The Longlist 2018