Two novels written by Canadians – one set in goldrush California, the other in Second World War Europe – join four British titles on the shortlist for this year’s Man Booker Prize.
Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers, about a pair of squabbling, conflicted and murderous siblings on the 19th-century Western frontier, is published by Toronto’s House of Anansi. DeWitt, who’s also a screenwriter and currently lives in Portland, Ore., was born on Vancouver Island.
The island has produced the other shortlisted Canadian, Esi Edugyan, who lives in Victoria. Her novel Half Blood Blues, released in Canada this weekend, tells the story of a black German trumpeter who goes missing after being arrested by Nazis at the start of the Second World War, and the mystery of his disappearance that stretches on for decades and embroils his former bandmates. The novel was supposed to be published by Key Porter Books, but when that firm collapsed earlier this year, it was snapped up by Toronto’s Thomas Allen Publishers.
Also on the shortlist are Julian Barnes, hoping to be a bride after three turns as a bridesmaid on the Booker shortlist, with his novel The Sense of an Ending; Jamrach’s Menagerie, by Carol Birch; Pigeon English, by first-time novelist Stephen Kelman; and Snowdrops, by another first-time novelist, A.D. Miller. In a surprise move, one of the favoured novels on the 13-title longlist – Alan Hollinghurst’s bestseller The Stranger’s Child – did not make the final cut.
The announcement was made in London today by the chair of the jury, former M15 chief and current author of spy novels, Stella Rimington. “Inevitably it was hard to whittle down the longlist to six titles,” Rimington said in a statement. “We were sorry to lose some great books. But, when push came to shove, we quickly agreed that these six very different titles were the best.”
The winner will be announced at a gala event in London on Oct. 18, and will receive both £50,000 ($80,000 Cdn) and a very nice dinner.