A novel in verse and a story about trees and the people who love them are among six finalists announced Thursday for the prestigious Man Booker Prize for fiction.
U.K. poet Robin Robertson’s verse novel about violence and social division in contemporary America, “The Long Take,” and U.S. novelist Richard Powers’ eco-saga “The Overstory” — whose characters are both human and arboreal — are on a list that includes three U.K. authors, two Americans and a Canadian.
“The Long Take” is one of two debut novels on the list, alongside “Everything Under,” a story of words and memory by British writer Daisy Johnson. At 27, Johnson is the youngest-ever Booker finalist.
U.S. writer Rachel Kushner’s gritty women’s prison story “The Mars Room” is also a finalist. “Washington Black,” the saga of an escaped slave by Canada’s Esi Edugyan, and “Milkman,” a story by Northern Ireland writer Anna Burns set during the violent conflict known as the Troubles, round out the list.
The prize, subject to intense speculation and a flurry of betting, usually brings the victor a huge boost in sales and profile.
This year’s judges have favored new talent over more established names. Of the six finalists, only Edugyan has been nominated before, and favorites including Canada’s Michael Ondaatje didn’t make the cut from the 13-novel longlist.
Writer Kwame Anthony Appiah, chairman of the judging panel, said “these books speak very much to our moment but we believe they will endure.”
The winner of the 50,000-pound ($66,000) prize will be announced on Oct. 16 during a black-tie dinner at London’s Guildhall