by Rachel Stewart
On September 15, the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize was announced. The Man Booker is a prestigious prize, and according to its website, “the world’s most important literary award.” Every year, the prize is awarded to one book that was written in English and published in the United Kingdom. The winner receives £50,000, and all shortlisted authors receive £2,500 and a designer-bound copy of their book. The shortlist includes six novels, with authors coming from a variety of places across the globe, and this is only the second year that the prize is open to all nationalities. Before then, the prize was only open to authors hailing from the UK and Commonwealth, Ireland, and Zimbabwe. This year, there are two authors from America, two from the United Kingdom, one from Nigeria, and one from Jamaica. The winner will be announced on October 13, 2015.
1. A Brief History of Seven Killings- Marlon James (Jamaica)
This book of fiction explores the aftermath of the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in Jamaica in the 1970’s. It spans decades and continents, and is described as “brilliantly inventive” and “stunningly ambitious” by the Man Booker website.
2. Satin Island- Tom McCarthy (UK)
This is a postmodern novel set in London, centering around a main character named U. It’s a very complex work, and is “a work reflecting disjointed times,” the Man Booker website reports. Due to the nature of the work, a good summary is hard to come by, and even the examples one can find online aren’t easy to follow, so it may be best to just go into this book “blind,” and expecting something different from the usual.
3. The Year of the Runaways- Sunjeev Sahota (UK)
This is a novel set in both England and India, dealing with past and present, and issues such as immigration. It is the “story of an unlikely family thrown together by circumstance” according to the Man Booker website, and shows the bold dreams and daily struggles of this family.
4. The Fishermen- Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria)
Narrated by a shy nine year-old Nigerian boy, this novel combines traditional African storytelling and contemporary literary fiction by revolving around four young boys who have an evil prophecy of violence told to them. Consequently, this prophecy threatens to tear this family apart and while doing so sheds light on Nigeria “in all its historical, political and cultural complexity” the Man Booker website reads.
5. A Spool of Blue Thread- Anne Tyler (US)
This novel is, at its core, all about family. Throughout the pages of this novel, we peel back the curtain of one particular family, the Whitshanks, and witness the events of three Whitshank generations. We see the tensions and hopes and fears that define family.
6. A Little Life- Hanya Yanagihara (US)
A brick of a novel clocking in at around 720 pages, this is an epic about love and friendship. The Man Booker website describes it as “a depiction of heartbreak, and a dark examination of the tyranny of memory and the limits of human endurance.” We follow four graduates from a college in Massachusetts as they move to New York, and the decades that follow as their friendship matures and darkens. This book is also said to delve into some of the darkest places fiction has ever gone, so may not be for the faint of heart.