Indian-origin writer Neel Mukherjee’s ‘The Lives of Others’, a dark tale set in the context of naxalism in 1960s West Bengal, has been shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, one of the most prestigious awards in the English-language literary world.
Besides Kolkata-born Mukherjee’s book, the other five works shortlisted are: ‘To Rise Again at a Decent Hour’ (by Joshua Ferris), ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’ (Richard Flanagan), ‘We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves’ (Karen Joy Fowler), ‘How to be Both’ (Ali Smith), and ‘J’ by Howard Jacobson.
When Mukherjee's book published in May was longlisted, the judges described it thus: "From the horrific impact of its opening pages, to the humanity of its conclusion, this novel depicts modern India, without sentimentality or artifice".
Announcing the shortlist on Tuesday, chair of judges, AC Grayling, said the panel of judges praised the ‘depth and range’ of the list, which includes writers from Britain, the United States and Australia.
He said: “We are delighted to announce our international shortlist. As the Man Booker Prize expands its borders, these six exceptional books take the reader on journeys around the world, between the UK, New York, Thailand, Italy, Calcutta and times past, present and future”.
Grayling added: “We had a lengthy and intensive debate to whittle the list down to these six. It is a strong, thought-provoking shortlist which we believe demonstrates the wonderful depth and range of contemporary fiction in English.”
This is the first list to reflect the diversity of the novel in English regardless of the author’s nationality, as the Man Booker Prize has opened up to any author writing originally in English and published in the UK. Previously, the prize was open to authors from the UK & Commonwealth, Republic of Ireland and Zimbabwe.
The 2014 judges will now re-read the shortlisted titles in order to select the winner, whose name will be revealed on 14 October at a ceremony at London’s Guildhall.