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.


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