The shortlist for the 2018 Man Booker Prize was announced today. Each shortlisted author will receive £2,500 and a specially-bound edition of their book. On Tuesday, October 16th the winning book will be announced and the winning author will receive £50,000.
Milkman by Anna Burns (UK)
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (Canada)
Everything Under by Daisy Johnson (UK)
The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner (USA)
The Overstory by Richard Powers (USA)
The Long Take by Robin Robertson (UK)
The judges for this year’s prize are Kwame Anthony Appiah, Val McDermid, Leo Robson, Jacqueline Rose, and Leanne Shapton. The shortlist was winnowed down from the longlist of 13 books announced on July 23rd.
Some notes on the list: It’s a UK-heavy list, with three of the books from the UK, two from the U.S. and one from Canada, with no other countries represented. It includes four women and two men, and one writer of color. The list contains more genre experimentation than ever before with its inclusion of The Long Take, a novel in verse. Notable books that did not make it from the longlist to the shortlist include Michael Ondaatje’s Warlight and Sally Rooney’s Normal People.
If you want to get a literal read on the nominees yourself, The Mars Room and The Overstory have already been out in the US, and Washington Black joined them just this week. Everything Under is out next month from Graywolf. Milkman and The Long Take are out in 2019, from Graywolf and Knopf, respectively. Of course, you can always pay more for an export edition if you just can’t wait to get your hands on a US edition.
Stay tuned for the announcement of the 2018 Man Booker Prize winner on October 16th!
At Goodreads, we have long been interested in the subject of professional opinion versus user-generated opinion, so this year we thought it was high time to revisit the anatomy of a prizewinning book.
We learned that male authors win more often than female authors, and novels centered on a woman’s journey don’t win major literary prizes as often as stories about men or featuring multiple protagonists. Men tend to win more and write about men’s stories more. In fact, an in-depth analysis of book data on Goodreads found that only 18 percent of 95 prizewinning books from 2000 to 2017 featured a woman as the standalone main character.
Together with the analytics team, engineers, and designers, we looked at a random sample size of 40,000 active members on the site (20,000 men and 20,000 women) and examined 95 prizewinning books from 2000 to 2017. These books won the following prizes: PEN/Faulkner Awards, Pulitzer Prizes, National Book Awards, The Man Booker Prizes, and the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Awards.
The results support a very interesting 2015 study by author and researcher Nicola Griffith. It’s also been two years since Griffith’s post, so we looked to see if there were any new trends in the data.
In 2016 and 2017 the ten works included in our research mainly followed the same pattern as the one Griffith saw, with more male authors winning, and more books with a lead male protagonist winning. Even this week, the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fictionwas awarded to Andrew Sean Greer for Less: A Novel, which according to our site is an enjoyable read, but still a book by a man about a man. Interestingly, there was one book in the past two years that bucked the trend entirely, The Underground Railroad, which featured a female protagonist and was written by a male author (Colson Whitehead).
So, please enjoy this infographic! We’ll let you debate all the glorious questions that come forth. Why do stories about men get more conventional endorsement? Interesting counterpoint: The Pacific Standard points out that among best-selling authors, men and women are represented equally. What surprises you? What doesn’t?
P.S. For more fun reading data, check out our earlier infographic Sex and Reading!
LONDON — The Man Booker Prize is Britain’s most prestigious literary award. But for the past two years, American writers have dominated the competition — and authors from Britain and the Commonwealth countries are none too pleased.
The crescendo of frustration may have reached a peak. A group that counts the literary heavyweights Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan and Zadie Smith among its members has fired a shot across the bow, demanding that the Man Booker Foundation reverse a 2014 decision making any novel written in English and published in Britain eligible for the prize.
Leading authors and critics from the group, the Rathbones Folio Academy, bashed the Booker’s policy anew this week, arguing that changing the rules had taken away the distinctiveness of the prize, which was previously limited to writers from Britain, Ireland, Zimbabwe and the Commonwealth.
They also criticized the way in which the Man Booker, begun in 1969, had highlighted less well known and prominent literature.
“The Man Booker used to provide a point of focus each year for British and Commonwealth fiction, a sense that this had some identity-in-difference, and that British and Commonwealth novels were in some sense ‘talking to one another’ — as distinct from any conversation going on in U.S. fiction,” Tessa Hadley, a British author and member of the Folio Academy, said by email. “Now, it’s as though we’re perceived, and perceive ourselves, as only a subset of U.S. fiction, lost in its margins and eventually, this dilution of the community of writers plays out in the writing,” she added.
American author George Saunders has won the Man Booker prize for his first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, a polyphonous meditation on death, grief and American history.
Saunders, widely lauded for his short stories, was considered the favorite to win the award. His novel centers on the death of Abraham Lincoln’s beloved son Willie and the night that Lincoln reportedly spent in the graveyard, devastated by his grief and lingering by his son’s body.
In the book, Saunders weaves fragments of historical documents (both authentic and imagined) with the voices of ghosts trapped in the graveyard with young Willie, watching in wonder at the strength of his father’s love. The devastating toll of the Civil War is the backdrop for the scene of very particular loss.
In February, Saunders told NPR that he carried the idea for the novel around with him for 20 years — although he wasn’t sure it would be a novel at all.
Saunders explained that the “bardo” of the title is a Tibetan concept for a sort of transitional zone — a space between death and whatever comes after, in the world of the novel.
This is the second year in a row that an American has taken home the prize — in a year when U.S. authors made up 50 percent of the short list.
The Man Booker, one of the most prestigious prizes in literature, has been awarded annually since 1969. It comes with a £50,000 (nearly $66,000) cash prize and is generally associated with a substantial boost in sales for the winning book.
The award was originally reserved only for writers from the United Kingdom or the Commonwealth (countries that were once part of the British empire), but four years ago, the prize was opened up to Americans.
Last year, the prize went to Paul Beatty for The Sellout. It was the first time the Man Booker had been awarded to an American.