Booker Prize shortlist: Newcomers edge out literary heavyweights

The list, released on Wednesday (Sept 13), includes Elmet by Fiona Mozley (pictured), a 29-year-old British bookseller whose manuscript had not even been published when she got longlisted.
The list, released on Wednesday (Sept 13), includes Elmet by Fiona Mozley (pictured), a 29-year-old British bookseller whose manuscript had not even been published when she got longlisted.PHOTO: JOHN MURRAY

Singapore - Two debuts by newcomers have beat literary titans to make the shortlist of the prestigious Man Booker Prize.

The list, released on Wednesday (Sept 13), includes Elmet by Fiona Mozley, a 29-year-old British bookseller whose manuscript had not even been published when she got longlisted, and History Of Wolves by American author Emily Fridlund.

Elmet is about a family living in the Yorkshire woods who come into conflict with a ruthless landowner, while History Of Wolves is a coming-of-age novel about a teenage girl growing up in a failing cult in Minnesota.

In a surprise twist, they edged out heavyweights such as former prize-winner Arundhati Roy, whose much-hyped The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness marked her return to fiction after 20 years.

Also left out were favourites such as Zadie Smith, Sebastian Barry and Colson Whitehead, whose speculative slavery narrative The Underground Railroad won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction earlier this year.

Mozley and Fridlund's works will face off against 4 3 2 1, an 866-page epic by American author Paul Auster which traces the four parallel lives of a boy growing up in the United States; Exit West by Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid, a magical realist take on the refugee crisis; the ghostly Lincoln In The Bardo, a novelistic debut by American short story master George Saunders; and British author Ali Smith's post-Brexit novel Autumn.

The winner will be announced on Oct 17, and will receive £50,000 ($89,295). Each of the shortlisted authors will be awarded £2,500.

The 2017 Man Booker shortlist

4321 by Paul Auster (Faber & Faber)

History Of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Hamish Hamilton)

Elmet by Fiona Mozley (JM Originals, John Murray)

Lincoln In The Bardo by George Saunders (Bloomsbury)

Autumn by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)