A Diverse Man Booker Shortlist

The Man Booker Prize, Britain’s most prestigious literary award and, oddly, one of the few awards that affects sales in the U.S., surpassing our own National Book Awards, has released the 2015 shortlist of six titles.

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In the second year that American authors were eligible for the award, five made the longlist of 13, causing says the Guardian to worry that fears the US would dominate had become “more well-founded.” For the shortlist, however, only two US author made the cut, Hanya Yanagihara, for A Little Life (currently the bookies’ favorite in the UK. where people actually bet on such things) and Anne Tyler for a A Spool Of Blue Thread. Two authors from the UK, and one each from Jamaica and Nigeria round out the list.

The BBC noted that this list is exceptionally diverse, “four of the six authors are non-white, beating 2013’s record of three” but what “unites the books is the grimness of their themes.” When the judges were asked about this, they agreed, with one adding that, while the themes may be grim, “there isn’t a single book that isn’t touched with humour.”

The Guardian commented that the “biggest surprise” was that American author Marilyn Robinson (Lila) was eliminated from the list.

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The full shortlist, with links to reviews, below. The winner will be announced on Oct 13.

Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings (Penguin/Riverhead; HighBridge Audio; OverDrive Sample; Oct. 7, 2014), Jamaican, living in the US

Published last year in the US, this title appeared on many of the year’s best books lists.
Reviews — Michiko Kakutani, New York Times; Washington Post; Wall Street JournalNYT Sunday Book Review

Tom McCarthy, Satin Island (RH/Knopf; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample; Feb. 17, 2015), McCarthy was on a previous Booker Prize shortlist (for C), UK

US Reviews — NYT Sunday Book ReviewWashington PostL.A. Times

Chigozie Obioma, The Fishermen (Hachette/Little, Brown; OverDrive Sample; April 14, 2015), Nigeria

Reviews — NYT Sunday Book ReviewNPR review

Sunjeev Sahota, The Year of the Runaways (RH/Knopf; 9781101946107; Mar. 2016), UK

Forthcoming; no US consumer reviews yet. UK reviews, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent

Anne Tyler, A Spool of Blue Thread (RH/Knopf; Random House Audio; OverDrive Sample: Feb. 10, 2015), US

Reviews —NYT Sunday Book Review; Ron Charles, Washington PostLos Angeles Times; Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life (RH/Doubleday; OverDrive Sample; March 10, 2015), US

Reviews — Washington PostNYT Sunday Book ReviewLos Angeles TimesWall Street Journal; NPR review on Fresh Air.

Yanagihara was one of the few literary novelists to appear on a late night show this year (we’re hedging our bets here — she’s probably the ONLY one) .

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