LONDON – American authors Elizabeth Strout and Percival Everett are up against writers from Britain, Ireland, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka as finalists for the prestigious Booker Prize for fiction.
Strout’s symphony of everyday lives “Oh William!” and Everett’s powerful novel about racism and police violence, “The Trees,” are on a shortlist announced Tuesday for the 50,000 pound ($58,000) prize.
The other contenders include Zimbabwe’s NoViolet Bulawayo, for animal fable “Glory”; Irish writer Claire Keegan’s “Small Things Like These”; and “The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida” by Sri Lanka’s Shehan Karunatilaka.
British fantasy author Alan Garner — the oldest-ever Booker nominee at 87 — is on the list for “Treacle Walker.”
Former British Museum director Neil MacGregor, who is chairing the judging panel, said several of the books are inspired by real events and “address long national histories of cruelty and injustice, in Sri Lanka and Ireland, Zimbabwe and the United States.”
“Set in different places at different times, they are all about events that in some measure happen everywhere, and concern us all,” he said of the shortlist.
Founded in 1969, the Booker Prize has a reputation for transforming writers’ careers and was originally open only to British, Irish and Commonwealth writers. Eligibility was expanded in 2014 to all novels in English published in the U.K.
Last year’s winner was “The Promise,” by South Africa’s Damon Galgut.
The winner will be crowned Oct. 17 at a ceremony in London.