A change to the Man Booker Prize rules has been met with criticism.
Six incredible authors have been shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize, which will be announced on October 14, 2014.
The prestigious ceremony will take place at London’s Guildhall, and sees the likes of British Asian novelist, Neel Mukherjee as a contender for his stunning novel, The Lives of Others.
Also shortlisted, are Ali Smith (British), Howard Jacobson (British), Karen Joy Fowler (US), Richard Flanagan (Australian) and Joshua Ferris (US).
DESIblitz takes a look at the Man Booker Prize Contenders for 2014:
Neel Mukherjee ~ The Lives of Others
Mukherjee’s novel, set in Calcutta in the 1960s has earned the writer his first shortlisting for the Man Booker prize award.
The 528-page saga has received huge praise for its compelling and engaging style. Speaking about the philosophy behind the book, Neel says:
“I wanted to look at the moral foundations of fiction—of the novel, in particular—and attempt to unfold it as a metaphorical foundation and as a theme in my book.
“The ability to think about and imagine other people’s lives and minds, to enter into their heads, is the beginning of empathy, of the moral imagination and sense.”
Ali Smith ~ How to be Both
How to be Both marks the third time Ali Smith has been shortlisted. She was shortlisted before with The Accidental (2005) and Hotel World (2001).
This time around, her experimental novel follows two stories: a teenage girl set in the present day, and a renaissance artist in the 1460s. It doesn’t matter which way around the stories are read. In fact, the book has had two versions released, with the order of the main stories switched.
Interestingly, it adapts art’s fresco technique, and as Ali explains: “There’s a fresco on the wall: there it is, you and I look at it, we see it right in front of us; underneath that there’s another version of the story and it may or may not be connected to the surface. And they’re both in front of our eyes, but you can only see one, or you see one first.”
Howard Jacobson ~ J
Jacobson could be the first to win the Man Booker Prize twice, having previously won for The Finkler Question in 2010.
The book is set in the future, following a catastrophe referred to as ‘What Happened, If It Happened’. Underneath the Orwellian theme, J is a story about two people falling in love.
Speaking about the book, Jacobson says: “I can say it is about paying the price for winning an argument. It is about the aftermath of something terrible, but something that is still happening and that will get worse.”
Karen Joy Fowler ~ We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves has already won the author the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.
The novel follows narrator, Rosemary Cooke while at college, as she tells the story of her family, including her sister, Fern. The novel stems around science’s study of animal intelligence:
“The whole issue of animal testing for medical purposes is a very difficult one and one that I hope might someday be rendered moot through advances in technology and computer modelling and tailored treatments.
“I do believe that scientists bear the responsibility of any suffering they cause and that knowledge alone is not a sufficient motivation,” Kay explains.
Richard Flanagan ~ The Narrow Road to the Deep North
Flanagan’s entry takes it title from the haiku poet Matsuo Basho. The novel is a love story set in a war camp on the Burma Death Railway. The protagonist, Dorrigo Evans, an Australian doctor haunted by a love affair with his uncle’s wife. As Richard explains:
“My father was a Japanese POW who worked as a slave labourer on the Death Railway, a crime against humanity that saw more people die than the bomb killed at either Nagasaki or Hiroshima.
“If Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North is rightly celebrated as one of the high points of Japanese culture, my father’s experience was of one of its lowest.”
Joshua Ferris ~ To Rise Again at a Decent Hour
Dubbed ‘the Catch-22 of dentistry’, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour is the story of Paul O’Rourke. In it, O’Rourke, a 40 year-old dentist has his identity stolen by somebody who is seemingly living a better life than himself:
“The only way to defuse the anxiety of the Internet is to distract yourself with the pleasures of real life. Which requires disconnecting. Which makes people very anxious. No one wants to miss out on anything,” Ferris explains.
Ferris’ book is the second entry from American novelists, with Karen Joy Fowler’s being the other.
This year marks the first that the Man Booker Prize has been opened up to non-Commonwealth authors. The award now considers all novels originally written in English and published in the UK.
Jonathan Taylor, chairman of the Booker Prize Foundation, said:
“We are embracing the freedom of English in its versatility, in its vigour, in its vitality and in its glory, wherever it may be. We are abandoning the constraints of geography and national boundaries.”
The change has been considered controversial, after concerns the new rules were unfair on British authors.
All shortlisted authors receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book. Whilst the winner will net a tidy, £50,000.