New talent tops Man Booker shortlist

LONDON • A psychological crime thriller set in the Scottish Highlands and the tale of a disturbed young woman in 1960s Massachusetts are on the shortlist for the prestigious Man Booker prize, which was unveiled yesterday.

Nobel winner J.M. Coetzee failed to make the six-name list for the world's leading English-language fiction award, which features only one previous nominee, South African-born British author Deborah Levy.

Her story Hot Milk is about an intense relationship between a sickly mother and her daughter set in a small Spanish fishing village which the jury said in a statement examines "female rage and sexuality".

Scottish writer Graeme Macrae Burnet's His Bloody Project thriller "paints a painfully realistic picture of poverty in the tiny crofting community of Culduie in the Scottish Highlands", the jury said.

First-time author Ottessa Moshfegh, a Boston-born 35-year-old, was selected for Eileen, a portrait of "an unassuming yet disturbed young woman" trapped between caring for her alcoholic father in a squalid house and her job as a secretary at a boys' prison.

The three other books shortlisted are David Szalay's All That Man Is, a portrait of masculinity; Madeleine Thien's Do Not Say We Have Nothing, about classical music in revolutionary China; and Paul Beatty's The Sellout, a satire on US urban life.

"The final six reflect the centrality of the novel in modern culture - in its ability to champion the unconventional, to explore the unfamiliar, and to tackle difficult subjects," jury chair Amanda Foreman, a historian, said in a statement.

"As a group we were excited by the willingness of so many authors to take risks with language and form," she said.

The winner will be announced in London on Oct 25.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2016, with the headline 'New talent tops Man Booker shortlist'. Print Edition | Subscribe