UK Booker Prize set to name first-time winnerSun, 26 Nov 2023 03:03:45 GMT

Britain’s Booker Prize for fiction will anoint a first-time winner when the 2023 recipient of the prestigious prize is announced at a ceremony in London on Sunday.None of this year’s six finalists — two Americans, a Canadian, two Irish and a Kenyan author — have been shortlisted before and only one has previously been longlisted.The prize is one of the world’s top literary awards and has propelled to fame countless household names, including past winners Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood and Hilary Mantel.This year’s six books offer “terrors, pleasures, joys and consolations”, according to organisers, on themes that, among others, touch on grief, immigration and political extremism.The literary prize is open to works of fiction by writers of any nationality, written in English and published in the UK or Ireland between October 1, 2022, and September 30, 2023.The winner will receive £50,000 (around $63,000) and a huge boost to their profile.The short-listed novels, announced in September, were chosen from a 13-strong longlist that had been whittled down from an initial 158 works.Among them is Irish author Paul Murray’s “The Bee Sting”, a tragicomic saga which looks at the role of fate in the travails of one family. Murray was previously longlisted in 2010.Kenyan writer Chetna Maroo’s moving debut novel “Western Lane” about grief and sisterhood follows the story of a teenage girl for whom squash is life.Paul Lynch’s dystopian work “Prophet Song” is set in Dublin as Ireland descends into tyranny.A five-person panel also selected “If I Survive You” by US writer Jonathan Escoffery, which follows a Jamaican family and their chaotic new life in Miami.He is joined by fellow American author, Paul Harding, whose “This Other Eden” — inspired by historical events — tells the story of Apple Island, an enclave off the US coast where society’s misfits flock and build a new home.Canada is represented on the shortlist in the shape of “Study for Obedience” by Sarah Bernstein. The unsettling novel explores the themes of prejudice and guilt through a suspicious narrator.Although none of the novelists have won the prize before, some are no stranger to accolades, most notably Harding, who won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his first novel “Tinkers”.Maroo and Escoffery have made the shortlist with their debut novels. Five debut novelists have won the Booker before, the last being Douglas Stuart with “Shuggie Bain” in 2020. The Booker was first awarded in 1969. Last year’s winner was Sri Lankan writer Shehan Karunatilaka for “The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida”.