Today the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize has been unveiled, with the thirteen strong longest whittled down to just six. The six authors making the cut are Anna Burns, Esi Edugyan, Daisy Johnson, Rachel Kushner, Richard Powers and Robin Robertson.
Although, still a strong shortlist, it is not without its surprises. There’s no room on the list for Michael Ondaatje, a past winner, and the recent recipient of the Golden Man Booker, for example. Though, perhaps the biggest surprise omission is Sally Rooney‘s Good People, which ahead of today’s announcement, was with 3-1 odds the bookmakers favourite to win the whole competition. Indeed, only one of the bookmakers favourites – Richard Powers – made the shortlist.
The 2018 shortlist covers a diverse range of subjects, from an eleven year old slave escaping a Barbados sugar plantation, to a D-Day veteran living with PTSD. Though, their common thread according to Head Judge Kwame Anthony Appiah, is that each novel “is a miracle of stylistic invention in which the language takes centre stage.”
With two successive American winners in a row, there had be some grumbling that the award was becoming too US-centric. This year there are only two US authors on the shortlist, along with three from the UK and one from Canada. There are also more women on this year’s shortlist too, with four women reaching the final round of the competition.
The 2018 shortlist of six novels:
Anna Burns (UK) – Milkman (Faber & Faber)
Esi Edugyan (Canada) – Washington Black (Serpent’s Tail)
Daisy Johnson (UK) – Everything Under (Jonathan Cape)
Rachel Kushner (USA) – The Mars Room (Jonathan Cape)
Richard Powers (USA) – The Overstory (William Heinemann)
Robin Robertson (UK) – The Long Take (Picador)
The shortlist was selected by a panel of five judges: the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah (Chair); crime writer Val McDermid; cultural critic Leo Robson; feminist writer and critic Jacqueline Rose; and artist and graphic novelist Leanne Shapton.
Each of the shortlisted authors will receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book. The eventual winner will then receive a further £50,000 and can expect instant international recognition, and a significant boost in sales. The 2018 winner will be announced on Tuesday 16 October in London’s Guildhall.