Indie publishers and debut novelists favoured over literary giants in 2016 Man Booker shortlist

by |September 13, 2016

SocialMediaImage(62)First awarded in 1969, the Man Booker Prize is recognised as the leading prize for high quality literary fiction written in English.

The 2016 shortlist has just been announced: 2 Americans, 2 Canadians and 2 British authors made the list, with literary giants as Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee, Costa winner A.L. Kennedy and Pulitzer winner Elizabeth Strout being overlooked this year.

Instead, 35 year old American debut novelist Ottessa Moshfegh was shortlisted for her psychological thriller Eileen. Fellow American Paul Beatty also made the list with The Sellout, a biting American satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing.

Brit Deborah Levy was previously shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2012; she returns this year with Hot Milk. Fellow Brit Graeme Macrae Burney is shortlisted for His Bloody Project. 

Canadian-born writers David Szalay and Madeleine Thien make the list for All That Man Is and Do Not Say We Have Nothing respectively.

Judges for the prize this year are Amanda Foreman, Jon Day, Abdulrazak Gurnah, David Harsent and Olivia Williams. Each writer on the shortlist will receive £2,500. The £50,000 winner will be revealed on 25 October.

The 2016 Man Booker Shortlist

the-selloutThe Sellout

by Paul Beatty

Born in the ‘agrarian ghetto’ of Dickens – on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles – the narrator of The Sellout is raised by his single father, a controversial sociologist, and spends his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. Led to believe that his father’s pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family’s financial woes, he is shocked to discover, after his father is killed in a police shoot-out, that there never was a memoir. In fact, all that’s left is the bill for a drive-through funeral.

Fuelled by this deceit and the general disrepair of his hometown, the narrator sets out to right another wrong: his hometown Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California from further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town’s most famous resident – Hominy Jenkins – he initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local… Read more


All That Man Is
by David Szalay

Nine men. Each of them at a different stage of life, each of them away from home, and each of them striving – in the suburbs of Prague, beside a Belgian motorway, in a cheap Cypriot hotel – to understand just what it means to be alive, here and now.

Tracing an arc from the Spring of youth to the winter of old age, All That Man Is brings these separate lives together to show us men as they are – ludicrous and inarticulate, shocking and despicable; vital, pitiable, hilarious, and full of heartfelt longing. And as the years chase them down, the stakes become bewilderingly high in this piercing portrayal of 21st-century manhood… Read more




by Ottessa Moshfegh

The Christmas season offers little cheer for Eileen Dunlop, an unassuming yet disturbed young woman trapped between her role as her alcoholic father’s carer in his squalid home and her day job as a secretary at the boys’ prison, filled with its own quotidian horrors. Consumed by resentment and self-loathing, Eileen tempers her dreary days with perverse fantasies and dreams of escaping to the big city. In the meantime, she fills her nights and weekends with shoplifting, stalking a handsome prison guard named Randy, and cleaning up her increasingly deranged father’s messes.

When the beautiful, charismatic Rebecca Saint John arrives on the scene as the new counselor at the prison, Eileen is enchanted and unable to resist what appears to be a miraculously budding friendship. In a Hitchcockian twist, her affection for Rebecca ultimately pulls her into complicity in a crime that surpasses her wildest imaginings… Read more 


Hot Milk
by Deborah Levy

Sofia and her mother, Rose, arrive on the Spanish coast seeking help. Rose is the victim of a biological conspiracy – her legs have stopped working and no one can tell her why. Sofia has been wrestling with this mystery single-handed for years and she’s desperate enough to call for back-up. But waiting in Almeria are many more questions than answers.

Who is Ingrid Bauer, the seamstress, the seductress, the big bad sister? Why is someone vandalising the walls of the town with gaudy love letters? And what part must Sofia play in all this? Floating on the dusk tide among numberless ghostly jellyfish, she feels everything inside herself shattering apart in slow motion. It is the best thing that ever happened to her.

Almeria is a place caught between the desert and the deep blue sea. It’s a place of shifting mirages, watched over by the famous Dr Gomez and his glamorous assistant, Nurse Sunshine. Sofia and Rose have come seeking solutions… Read more


His Bloody Project
by Graeme Macrae Burney

The year is 1869. After a brutal triple murder in a remote community in the Scottish Highlands, a young man by the name of Roderick Macrae is arrested for the crime.

A memoir written by the accused makes it clear that he is guilty, but the police and the courts must decide what drove him to murder the local village constable. And why did he kill his other two victims? Was he insane? Or was this the act of a man in possession of his senses? Only the persuasive powers of his advocate stand between the killer and the gallows at Inverness.

In this compelling and original novel, using the words of the accused, personal testimony, transcripts from the trial and newspaper reports, Graeme Macrae Burnet tells a moving story about the provisional nature of the truth, even when the facts are plain… Read more



Do Not Say We Have Nothing
by Madeleine Thien

An epic and resonant novel about the far-reaching effects of China’s revolutionary history, told through the stories of two interlinked musical families, from the 1940s to the present day.

In Canada in 1991, ten-year-old Marie and her mother invite a guest into their home: a young woman who has fled China in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests. Her name is Ai-Ming.

As her relationship with Marie deepens, Ai-Ming tells the story of her family in revolutionary China, from the crowded teahouses in the first days of Chairman Mao’s ascent, to the Shanghai Conservatory in the 1960s and the events leading to the Beijing demonstrations of 1989. It is a history of revolutionary idealism… Read more


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About the Contributor

Anastasia Hadjidemetri is the former editor of The Booktopian and star of Booktopia's weekly YouTube show, Booked with Anastasia. A big reader and lover of books, Anastasia relishes the opportunity to bring you all the latest news from the world of books.


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