UK Booker Prize set to name first-time winner

At an event in London on Sunday, the 2023 laureate of the coveted honor will be named, while Britain’s Booker honor for Fiction will crown a first-time winner.

This year’s six finalists—two Canadians, two Irish, one American, and one Kenyan author—have never before been on the shortlist, and just one has ever been on the longlist.

One of the greatest literary prizes in the world, it has made many well-known people, including previous winners Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, and Hilary Mantel, famous.

This year’s six books offer “terrors, pleasures, joys and consolations”, according to organisers, on themes that, among others, touch on grief, immigration and political extremism.

The literary prize is open to works of fiction by writers of any nationality, written in English and published in the UK or Ireland between October 1, 2022, and September 30, 2023.

The winner will receive o50,000 (around $63,000) and a huge boost to their profile.

The short-listed novels, announced in September, were chosen from a 13-strong longlist that had been whittled down from an initial 158 works.

One tragicomic tale that examines the part fate plays in a family’s struggles is “The Bee Sting” by Irish novelist Paul Murray.

Murray was on the 2010 longlist before.

The narrative of a teenage girl for whom squash is life is told in the poignant debut novel “Western Lane” by Kenyan author Chetna Maroo, which explores bereavement and sisterhood.

The dystopian novel “Prophet Song” by Paul Lynch is set in Dublin during Ireland’s slide toward dictatorship.

A five-person panel also selected “If I Survive You” by US writer Jonathan Escoffery, which follows a Jamaican family and their chaotic new life in Miami.

He is joined by fellow American author, Paul Harding, whose “This Other Eden” — inspired by historical events — tells the story of Apple Island, an enclave off the US coast where society’s misfits flock and build a new home.

Sarah Bernstein’s “Study for Obedience” is the shortlist representative from Canada. The unreliable narrator of the frightening book examines topics of guilt and racism.

Despite the fact that none of the novelists had previously won the prize, several are no strangers to recognition; Harding, for example, was awarded the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his debut book “Tinkers.”

With their first books, Maroo and Escoffery have made the shortlist. There have been five debut writers to win the Booker Prize; Douglas Stuart’s “Shuggie Bain” was the most recent in 2020.

The Booker was first awarded in 1969. Last year’s winner was Sri Lankan writer Shehan Karunatilaka for “The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida”.

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