Friday, 12 September 2008

Booker Shortlist

The White TigerThe Man Booker Prize 2008 shortlist was announced on Tuesday 9th September. Two first-time novelists, Aravind Adiga and Steve Toltz, survived the cull of the longlist from thirteen novels to just six. Previous winners of the Booker Prize, John Berger and Salman Rushdie, failed to make this year's shortlist and Sebastian Barry is the only novelist shortlisted for this year's prize to have been previously shortlisted. Salman Rushdie had been hotly tipped to win the prize with The Enchantress of Florence which has been the bestselling of the longlisted titles. Linda Grant, winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2000 and longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2002, is the only female author to make the shortlist of six. The other authors shortlisted are Philip Hensher and Amitav Ghost. The six authors also represent a broad geographical spread with two Indian authors, two English authors, an Australian author and an Irish author.
The six shortlisted novels are:
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Born in a village in heartland India, the son of a rickshaw puller, Balram is taken out of school by his family and put to work in a teashop. As he crushes coals and wipes tables, he nurses a dream of escape - of breaking away from the banks of Mother Ganga, into whose depths have seeped the remains of a hundred generations. It is a tale of Balram’s journey from darkness of village life to the light of entrepreneurial success.
The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
Told through the journals of Roseanne McNulty and her psychiatrist Dr Grene, the story that emerges - of Roseanne’s family in 1930s Sligo - is at once shocking and deeply beautiful. It is the story of a life blighted by terrible mistreatment and ignorance, and yet marked still by love and passion and hope.
Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
In a time of colonial upheaval, fate has thrown together a truly diverse cast of Indians and Westerners. As their old family ties are washed away they, like their historical counterparts, come to view themselves as jahaj-bhais or ship-brothers. An unlikely dynasty is born, which will span continents, races and generations.
The Clothes on Their Backs by Linda Grant
In a red brick mansion block off the Marylebone Road, Vivien, a sensitive, bookish girl grows up sealed off from both past and present by her timid refugee parents. Then, one morning, a glamorous older man appears, dressed in a mohair suit, with a diamond watch on his wrist and a girl in a leopard-skin hat on his arm. He is her Uncle S├índor but why, is he so violently unwelcome in her parents’ home?
The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher
Set in Sheffield, The Northern Clemency charts the relationship between two families: Malcolm and Katherine Glover and their three children; and their neighbours the Sellers family, newly arrived from London. The novel is a moving portrait of Britain’s social landscape through the Thatcher era.
A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz
As he recollects the events that led to his father’s demise, Jasper recounts a boyhood of outrageous schemes and shocking discoveries - about his infamous outlaw uncle Terry, his mysteriously absent European mother, and Martin’s constant losing battle to make a lasting mark on the world he so disdains. A funny indictment of the modern world and its mores.

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