Finalists for the Man Booker Prize, Britain's best-known literary award, were announced last week. The winning novelist will receive $60,000 on Oct. 19 at an awards ceremony in London.
1. Bitter Fruit, by Achmat Dangor (Kwela). The story of a brittle family in a dysfunctional society in modern South Africa.
2. The Electric Michelangelo, by Sarah Hall (Faber & Faber). A child helps his eccentric mother run a macabre guesthouse before going to work for a famed tattoo artist.
3. The Line of Beauty, by Alan Hollinghurst (Bloomsbury). As the boom years of the mid-80s unfold, Nick Guest becomes caught up in a lavish lifestyle of sex and grand parties.
4. Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell (Random House). Six interwoven stories: a reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer in Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan's California; a vanity publisher; a genetically modified 'dinery server' on death-row; and a young Pacific Islander.
5. The Master, by Colm Toibin (Scribner). A fictionalized biography of Henry James, the American novelist who became a connoisseur of exile, living among artists in Paris, Rome, Venice, and London. (Reviewed May 25)
6. I'll Go to Bed at Noon, by Gerard Woodward (Vintage). Colette's family is being ruined by alcohol. Her oldest son has thrown away a promising musical career for drinking sprees with his brother-in-law, and her older brother is following an equally self-destructive path.