Two Americans made the cut for the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize this year, the first that the prize could be won by writers from anywhere in the world as long as their novel was published in English and released in the UK.
American authors Karen Joy Fowler of “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves” and Joshua Ferris of “To Rise Again at a Decent Hour” are two of the writers who are on the shortlist for the prize. The others are Neel Mukherjee for “The Lives of Others,” Ali Smith for “How to Be Both,” Howard Jacobson for “J,” and Richard Flanagan for “The Narrow Road to the Deep North.”
The winner will be revealed on Oct. 14.
“As the Man Booker prize expands its borders, these six exceptional books take the reader on journeys around the world, between the UK, New York, Thailand, Italy, Calcutta and times past, present and future," A.C. Grayling, who is heading up the judges panel, said as he announced the shortlist, according to the Guardian. "We had a lengthy and intensive debate to whittle the list down to these six. It is a strong, thought-provoking shortlist which we believe demonstrates the wonderful depth and range of contemporary fiction in English.”
The inclusion of two American writers out of six contenders seems to have soothed the fears of some of those who thought the US would overtake the prestigious prize. BBC arts correspondent Rebecca Jones wrote that “fears the prize would be swamped by American writers have proved unfounded” and Telegraph writer Hannah Furness wrote that in the shortlist, “British writers ward off US contenders."
Monitor fiction critic Yvonne Zipp called Fowler’s novel “outstanding… her new novel will land with the force of a haymaker,” while James Parker of Barnes & Noble found “Rise” to be “incoherent” at times and “the elements do not, finally, knit. Which is a shame, because the inner mystery – that is, the mystery of existence – is worth addressing. You might say that it is the only thing worth addressing. And Ferris has made a sprawling, brawling, linguistically illuminated attempt to do so. My opinion? He'll get it right next time.” In addition, Melissa H. Pierson of B&N wrote of Flanagan’s writing in “Road,” “Flanagan is a writer so profoundly observant that every other phrase manages to be compact and expansive at once. If this sounds like the definition of poetry, it should… [The book] is not perfect… But it dares the big revelation.”