Six authors — four British, one Indian and one Malaysian — will compete for the 2012 Man Booker Prize, one of the highest honors in literature, worth about $80,000 (or £50,000), it was announced Tuesday in London.
A panel of judges chaired by Sir Peter Stothard, editor of the British “Times Literary Supplement,” nominated the contending novels for the shortlist, which were selected from the “longlist” of 12 novels announced in July.
In addition to literary giants, the Man Booker's judge panel often includes an actor or television personality. Dan Stevens, who plays Matthew Crawley on "Downton Abbey," lends his literary eye this year.
The Man Booker Prize will be awarded at a gala in London on Oct. 16.
The shortlist in order of author, book, publisher with plot summaries:
Tan Twan Eng, “The Garden of Evening Mists” (Myrmidon Books)
“The crucial action in 'The Garden of Evening Mists,' a strong, quiet novel by Tan Twan Eng, a Malaysian writer who now lives part of the year in Cape Town, takes place in Malaya just after World War II. The beautiful garden referred to in the title plays host to the intertwining of several lives at a period cursed with being, so the saying goes, an 'interesting time.' – The New York Times
Deborah Levy, “Swimming Home” (Faber & Faber)
“With her first novel in 15 years, Deborah Levy has taken worn structures and made something strange and new. The familiar elements in 'Swimming Home' are a middle-class holiday, two families sharing a villa, and a stranger coming into their lives. The risk of cozy familiarity seems great — the usual conflicts, the expected twists — but the result is something spiky and unsettling.” – The Guardian
Hilary Mantel (2009 Man Booker Prize winner), “Bring up the Bodies “(Fourth Estate)
“There will be plenty of fresh corpses by the time Hilary Mantel’s narrative completes its mordant course through the nine months required to send Anne Boleyn to the scaffold and clear the way for Henry’s new love, Jane Seymour. With ruthless efficiency, Master Secretary Cromwell facilitates this judicial murder, as well as the concomitant deaths of four men who made the mistake of crossing him.” – The Washington Post
Alison Moore, “The Lighthouse” (Salt)
“Its Anglo-German protagonist, Futh, takes a walking holiday on the continent to recover from the break-up of his marriage. But as his story unfolds — a series of memories nested like Russian dolls — we soon see that what's really under his skin is his mother's decision to leave him and his father some 30 years earlier.” – The Guardian
Will Self, “Umbrella” (Bloomsbury)
“As has become fairly standard in modern fiction, several narratives and time periods are simultaneously in play: London and the French trenches in 1918, Friern Barnet Mental Hospital in 1971, and North London again on the eve of the 2010 election. But whereas most fictional time-jumpers confine the separate strands within sections or chapters, Self switches focus between sentences or, sometimes, during them: in a printed equivalent of the dissolve device in films, one character thinking of another will somehow lift the reader into the latter's consciousness.” – The Guardian
Jeet Thayil, “Narcopolis” (Faber & Faber)
“What, you say? Another drug novel? Don’t be surprised. Since drugs and those damned by addiction don’t seem about to go away, we shouldn’t be shocked that novels about them don’t seem about to go away either. Though the shock for the interested reader of Narcopolis may come with the awareness, present almost from the first page on, that the great subcontinent that gave the world opium has as many addicts now as anywhere else in the world. In fact, in Thayil’s 'Narcopolis,' his world within the world of Mumbai, it seems there are enough customers for the drug of dreams to keep the Afghan poppy growers in business forever.” – Dallas Morning News