The Man Booker Prize announced its shortlist for this year’s award this morning. For the first time in Booker history two American novelists are included. The Man Booker Prize has been traditionally open to novels in English from the UK, Ireland and the Commonwealth, but the rules were altered last year to admit novels in English from anywhere in the world. The six novels on the list–the first two by Americans–are To Rise Again At A Decent Hour by Jonathan Ferris, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, The Narrow Road To The Deep North by Richard Flanagan, J by past Booker-winner Howard Jacobson, The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee, and How To Be Both by Ali Smith. Chair of the judging panel A. C. Grayling said there had been “lengthy and intensive debate” to decide the final six books from the longlist of 13 novels. “It is a strong, thought-provoking shortlist which we believe demonstrates the wonderful depth and range of contemporary fiction in English.”
Past winner Jacobson is joint-favorite with Smith to win the prize, worth £50,000. Bookmaker William Hill has the two authors at 3/1. William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe said: “Literary punters are favouring the runners with the best previous form in the event, but this is no two-horse race and whoever gets his or her nose in first on the line will probably be winning in a photo finish, so closely are the six runners matched.” The Booker Prize winner will be announced in London on October 14th.