George Saunders headlines 2017 Man Booker Prize shortlist, which features 3 debut novels

The £50,000 ($81,625 Cdn) prize recognizes the best book available in English that was published in the U.K.
Lincoln in the Bardo is the first novel from acclaimed American author George Saunders. (Penguin Random House/David Crosby)

The Man Booker Prize revealed their six-title shortlist on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. Three debuts were nominated for the £50,000 ($81,625 Cdn), which recognizes the best book published in English available in the U.K. 

The first debut novel on the list is from the acclaimed short story writer George Saunders. The American author is nominated for his first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, set in a graveyard where Abraham Lincoln's 11-year-old son has just been laid to rest. It's 1862 — just one year into the American Civil War and Lincoln's presidency. 

The second debut novel is from another American, Emily Fridlund. History of Wolves is about a 14-year-old girl named Linda who lives in a failing commune in the Minnesota woods. A new girl at school, a new teacher and new neighbours challenge Linda's assumptions and forces her to make difficult decisions that will change the course of her life.

The final debut novel on the shortlist is Elmet by U.K. writer Fiona Mozley, a novel about a man struggling to make ends meet, told through the eyes of his two children.

Rounding out the shortlist are books by Ali Smith, Paul Auster and Mohsin Hamid. 

Acclaimed U.K. writer Ali Smith receives the nod for her novel Autumn, which explores the relationship between a struggling young female lecturuer and her mentor, David, a senior citizen living in an assisted living facility. 

4321 by American writer Paul Auster is a coming-of-age story centred around a character named Archie Ferguson. Archie's story is told four separate times as he lives out his life in four different ways.

Mohsin Hamid, who is from Pakistan but now lives in the U.S. is a finalist for Exit West, a love story that's entrenched in issues regarding refugees and migration.

The winner of the 2017 prize will be revealed on Oct. 17, 2017 in London.

The 'Man Booker's Dozen' longlist of 13 titles featured heavyweight authors such as Sebastian Barry, Zadie Smith, Arundhati Roy and Colson Whitehead.

No Canadians were nominated this year. In 2016, American Paul Beatty won the Man Booker Prize for The Sellout. Canadians Madeleine Thien and David Szalay were both on the shortlist for their books Do Not Say We Have Nothing and All That Man Is, respectively.

144 titles were submitted for consideration for the 2017 prize. This year's award is being judged by Baroness Lola Young, literary critic Lila Zam Zangeneh, novelist Sarah Hall, artist Tom Phillips and writer Colin Thubron.


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