Despite the fears of many that opening up the Man Booker Prize to non-Commonwealth based writers would lead to domination by the Americans, the shortlist for 2014’s prize was announced with merely 2 of the 6 writers originating from across the Atlantic. Half of the writers are British with Australian Richard Flanagan completing the list for what remains one of the most prestigious literary prizes on the planet, despite repeated criticisms.
The list is as notable for its omissions as it is for who made the final 6. Popular favourite David Nicholls missed the final cut for his yet to be released latest, Us, as did David Mitchell, seen by many as favourite to take the prize with The Bone Clocks. The omissions from the longlist itself raised further eyebrows, with awards favourites Ian McEwen, Sarah Waters and Donna Tartt all failing to be listed.
The list contains only one previous winner, Howard Jacobson, who would become the first man to win twice if the dystopian novel J takes the prize (Hilary Mantel beat him to the punch). At the time of writing this piece, the bookies’ favourite is Neel Mukherjee’s The Lives of Others, although of course there’s still everything to play for this early in the proceedings. The award ceremony will take place on 14th October, with the winner receiving a £50,000 cheque and an undoubtedly delightful boost in sales.
I myself have only one of the shortlisted novels, Karen Joy Fowler’s novel, which I found to be a delightful read, and one that’s been popular with general audiences (probably helped by its low cost on Amazon Kindle).
To Rise Again At a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
J by Howard Jacobson
The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee
How to Be Both by Ali Smith