Anna Burns Wins the 2018 Man Booker Prize

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Anna Burns’ Milkman has won the 2018 Man Booker Prize, which makes her the first Northern Irish winner in the prize’s history—and breaks the dreaded potential outcome: three straight years of U.S. winners.

Set in an unnamed city with unnamed characters, the novel focuses on middle sister as she “navigates her way through rumour, social pressures and politics in a tight-knit community.” About her own novel, Burns told the Man Booker website that “‘The book didn’t work with names. It lost power and atmosphere and turned into a lesser — or perhaps just a different — book. In the early days I tried out names a few times, but the book wouldn’t stand for it. The narrative would become heavy and lifeless and refuse to move on until I took them out again. Sometimes the book threw them out itself’.”

In a unanimous decision, Kwame Anthony Appiah, the Booker’s chair of judges, said the experimental novel—which is a novel about a young woman being sexually harassed by a powerful man—was “incredible original” and that “none of us has ever read anything like this before.”

Here are the authors that made this year’s short and long lists.


Eclectic 2018 Man Booker Prize Longlist Announced

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The literary world was already a flutter with anticipation for the 2018 Man Booker Longlist announcement—and then The Guardian accidentally broke the embargo. Even though the article was promptly removed, the damage was already done (aka revealing the eclectic and unexpected list a day early).

In an effort to promote fiction, the Man Booker Prize is awarded to  “aims to promote the finest in fiction by rewarding the best novel of the year written in English and published in the United Kingdom.” In its 50th year, the longlist includes a few genre titles; two debut novelists (Sophie Macintosh and Guy Gunaratne); one previous Booker (and only Golden Booker) winner (Michael Ondaatje); and an emphasis on British and Irish authors.

Here’s the 2018 Man Booker longlist (which features many titles from our 2018 Great Book Preview) and applicable bonus links:

Sabrina by Nick Drnaso
The Water Cure by Sophie Macintosh
The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner (Read our review)
Everything Under by Daisy Johnson
Snap by Belinda Bauer
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
The Long Take by Robin Robertson
From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan
In Our Mad and Furious City by Guy Gunaratne
Warlight by Michael Ondaatje (From our archives, a piece on attending an Ondaatje reading)
The Overstory by Richard Powers
Milkman by Anna Burns
Normal People by Sally Rooney (Rooney’s 2016 Year in Reading entry)

The Man Booker Prize shortlist will be announced on September 20th.

George Saunders Wins the 2017 Man Booker Prize

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Acclaimed short story writer George Saunders has won the Man Booker Prize for his novel, Lincoln in the Bardo. Following in Paul Beatty’s footsteps, Saunders—who was the favorite to win—is the second American writer to receive the award since its inception 49 years ago. In our review of the novel, The Millions’ said “Saunders elevates the status of the in-between; the in-between is everything.” For a larger portrait of the esteemed author, read our own Elizabeth Minkel on Saunders and the “Question of Greatness.”

Here are the authors who were on this year’s shortlist.

Booker Prize Offers Up Eclectic 2017 Shortlist

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The Booker Prize has whittled down its longlist to an intriguing shortlist, and none of the authors tapped has previously won the Prize. This year, three Americans make the shortlist: Paul Auster, George Saunders, and Emily Fridlund. They are joined by the UK’s Ali Smith and Fiona Mozley, and UK/Pakistani writer Mohsin Hamid. The bookies suggest that Saunders is the favorite to win.

All the Booker Prize shortlisters are below (with bonus links where available):

4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster (Free Speech Is a Black-and-White Issue: The Millions Interviews Paul Auster)
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (A Classic Nightmare: On Emily Fridlund’s History of Wolves)
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (The World-Spanning Humanism of Mohsin Hamid)
Elmet by Fiona Mozley
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (In the Between: Lincoln in the Bardo)
Autumn by Ali Smith (Wordsmith: The Beguiling Gifts of Ali Smith)

Booker Prize Offers Up Eclectic 2016 Shortlist

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The Booker Prize has whittled down its longlist to an intriguing shortlist, and none of the authors tapped has previously won the Prize. As was the case in prior years, two Americans make the shortlist this year: Paul Beatty and Ottessa Moshfegh. They are joined by the UK’s Graeme Macrae Burnet and Deborah Levy, and Canadians David Szalay and Madeleine Thien. The bookies suggest that Levy, the only author remaining to have previously landed on a shortlist, is the favorite to win.

All the Booker Prize shortlisters are below (with bonus links where available):

The Sellout by Paul Beatty (The Inanity of American Plutocracy: On Paul Beatty’s The Sellout)
Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet
Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh (Ottessa Moshfegh’s Year in Reading)
All That Man Is by David Szalay
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien

Booker Prize Offers Up Eclectic 2015 Shortlist

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The Booker Prize has whittled down its longlist to an intriguing shortlist, and none of the authors tapped has previously won the Prize. As was the case last year, two Americans make the shortlist this year: Anne Tyler and Hanya Yanagihara. They are joined by Nigerian Chigozie Obioma, the UK’s Sunjeev Sahota and Tom McCarthy, and Jamaican Marlon James. The bookies suggest that Yanagihara is the favorite to win. She would be the first American to take the Prize.

All the Booker Prize longlisters are below (with bonus links where available):

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (The Book Report on A Brief History)
Satin Island by Tom McCarthy (The Last Epoch: Tom McCarthy’s Satin Island Takes on the Avant-Garde)
The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma (“The Audacity of Prose” by Chigozie Obioma, Clickworthy Headlines about The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma)
The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota
A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (Two Lives: On Hanya Yanagihara and Atticus Lish, ‘I Wouldn’tve Had a Biography at All’: The Millions Interviews Hanya Yanagihara)

Richard Flanagan Wins the 2014 Man Booker Prize

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Australian novelist Richard Flanagan has won this year’s Man Booker Prize for The Narrow Road to the Deep North. The book begins:

Why at the beginning of things is there always light? Dorrigo Evans’ earliest memories were of sun flooding a church hall in which he sat with his mother and grandmother. A wooden church hall. Blinding light and him toddling back and forth, in and out of its transcendent welcome, into the arms of women. Women who loved him. Like entering the sea and returning to the beach. Over and over.

The book is the story of an Australian prisoner of war, among more than 9,000 who were forced to build a railway through Burma and Thailand. Michael Gorra for the New York Times Book Review drew comparisons to Conrad and Zola and called it formally demanding but also “carefully and beautifully constructed.”

Revisit this year’s Booker Shortlist.

Here Come the Americans: The 2014 Booker Prize Longlist

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The Booker Prize has long been, arguably, the book prize with the most buzz, the one award that carries with it a raft of commentary and gossip. There has always been something provincial about the Booker; the award is closely watched by book lovers globally, but these readers may also roll their eyes a bit at the betting lines and fevered U.K. newspaper commentary that it comes with. That changes this year — we’ll see how much — as books from the U.S. are eligible for the first time. Previously, entries were limited to titles from the U.K. and Commonwealth countries (India, Australia and so on). Books published between October 2013 and September 2014 are eligible.

U.S. book prizes have never generated the same degree of interest in the U.S. that the Booker does in the U.K, and the Booker folks clearly saw an opportunity there. The motivation behind the wider Booker field seems to be to try to build the brand, as they say, and create a first truly global, annual book prize, a plan met with some consternation by those who appreciated that Prize’s ability to focus the book world’s attention on U.K. writers. The U.S. and U.K. book industries run on parallel tracks that also have plenty of crossover. Novels become hits on both sides of the Atlantic, but readers and the publishing establishments in each country also have distinct tastes (and not just in book cover design).

The experiment begins today, with Joshua Ferris, Karen Joy Fowler, Siri Hustvedt, and Richard Powers representing the first crop of Americans to be featured on a Booker Prize longlist. While the list has some global diversity, it is male-dominated, with only three women among the 13 authors on the longlist. The biggest surprise might be the appearance of Paul Kingsnorth, whose longlisted novel The Wake was released by a crowd-funded publisher, Unbound.

All the Booker Prize longlisters are below (with bonus links where available):

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris (excerpt, Ferris’s Year in Reading 2009)
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler (Khaled Hosseini on Karen Joy Fowler)
The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt (our review)
J by Howard Jacobson
The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth (at Unbound)
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (Exclusive: David Mitchell’s Twitter Story “The Right Sort” Collected)
The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee
Us by David Nicholls
The Dog by Joseph O’Neill (O’Neill’s 2008 Year in Reading)
Orfeo by Richard Powers (our review)
How to Be Both by Ali Smith (Wordsmith: The Beguiling Gifts of Ali Smith)
History of Rain by Niall Williams