Short List for Man Booker 2013

by Rachel Baker on September 14, 2013

The shortlist for the 2013 Man Booker award is out and Sarah Churchwell, a professor for American Literature at the University of East Anglia makes the case for this being the best list in ten years.

The Man Booker is, after all, a Commonwealth prize, as well as a British and Irish one, and the shortlist reflects the common wealth of many nations, many imaginations. It registers not only a multicultural world, but its migratory visions: an Irish writer’s meditation on an ancient Middle Eastern myth; a Japanese-Canadian writer’s linking of kamikaze pilots and 9/11 suicide bombers; the mingling in 19th-century New Zealand of Maori, Scottish, American, Irish and Chinese, drawn by the hope and greed that drives all frontier tales; a Calcutta family wrestling with diasporic American life and ghosts of the old world; a dark tale apparently set in Merrie Olde England, yet concerning deracination and exile; and a girl who leaves a shantytown in Zimbabwe for the false hope of the American Dream in Detroit.

But these novels are more than a catalogue of places and ethnicities, of paint-by-numbers social and political categories.

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