The list is dominated by writers from North America, with five US and one Canadian, Anne Carson, making up the contenders. Jane Gardam is the only English author on the shortlist. The final author is Eimear McBride who was born in Liverpool but grew up in the West of Ireland. Her book A Girl is a Half-formed Thing tells of a young woman's relationship with a brother still afflicted by a childhood brain tumour. Considered too experimental, it took McBride nine years to find a publisher. The other debut novelist on the shortlist is Sergio De La Pava whose book first appeared as a self-published work in 2008.
The eight books in contention for this year’s prize are:
Red Doc by Anne Carson
Schroder by Amity Gaige
Last Friends by Jane Gardam
Benediction by Kent Haruf
The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner
A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride
A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava
Tenth of December by George Saunders
The winner of the £40,000 prize will be announced on 10 March.