On the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 15, the 45th Man Booker Prize winner will be announced in a ceremony at London‘s Guildhall. The prestigious literary award — which recently garnered controversy over the decision to consider American authors for the prize — has traditionally been awarded to a English-language novel written by an author from the Commonwealth, the Republic of Ireland or Zimbabwe.
Here are the novels that have been shortlisted for this year’s prize:
We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
Bulawayo’s debut novel tells the story of Darling, a Zimbabwean child who, despite growing up in a bleak shanty town, is surrounded by friends and adventure. The story follows Darling and her gang of friends through their escapades, before she moves to the US at the age of 18. It’s while living in Detroit and, later, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, that Darling learns that America isn’t the paradise she once imagined. Like her young protagonist, Bulawayo also grew up in Zimbabwe before moving to Kalamazoo, Michigan, and the Guardian reports that she is the first Zimbabwean author to have a novel short-listed for the Man Booker.
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
Set in 19th-Century New Zealand, Catton’s hefty, 832-page novel tells the story of Walter Moody who, one night, stumbles upon a group of men who are stealthily attempting to solve a series of recent crimes — and is soon drawn into the mystery himself. The Luminaries is New Zealander Catton’s second novel and at 27, she is the youngest author to ever be shortlisted for the Man Booker, reports The Age.
Harvest by Jim Crace
Crace’s dark novel traces a week in a small English village, when a group of outsiders arrive during harvest and quickly arouse the suspicions of locals. Before long, the intrusion proves volatile and violence breaks out across the village, threatening everyone. The novel, which is among bookmakers favorite to win the prize, will be Crace’s last, reports the Independent, as the British author has announced he’s retiring.
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
Lahiri’s novel focuses on two brothers Subhash and Udayan, inseparable in their early years growing up in Calcutta before ambitions and political ideology come between them. When the bold and impetuous Udayan joins the Naxalite movement, his rebellion entangles his brother and their family for decades to come. British-born Lahiri now lives in the US and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2000 for her short-story collection, Interpreter of Maladies.
A Tale for The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
When Ozeki’s protagonist Ruth stumbles across a lunch box that has washed ashore near her British Columbia home, she soon becomes captivated by its contents. Inside is a diary written by a 16-year-old Japanese-American girl in Tokyo. Ruth becomes enthralled with the diary, which documents the teenager’s experiences with bullying and isolation, and Ruth comes to suspect the document was lost in the 2011 tsunami. A Tale for The Time Being is the fourth novel from the Canadian-American writer and, according to The Age, she is the first practising Zen-Buddhist priest to be shortlisted for the Man Booker.
The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín
Tóibín’s slim 112-page novel is a retelling of the Bible, told from the perspective of Jesus’s mother, Mary, as she struggles to recount the monumental events of her life through her grief. Though he hasn’t yet won, The Testament of Mary marks the third time Irish author Tóibín has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.