The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (Transworld), longlisted for the Man Booker, is one of three UK debuts shortlisted for the £10,000 Commonwealth Book Prize.
The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell (Windmill), a tale of two sisters after the death of their parents, and The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Wood (Simon & Schuster), a story set among Cambridge students, also make the shortlist.
Indian novel Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil, published in the UK by Faber, is also shortlisted; the book was shortlisted for the Man Booker last year.
Several other titles by Indian authors also make the 21-strong shortlist, with God on Every Wind by Farhad Sorabjee (Parthian Books), The Other Side of Light by Mishi Saran (HarperCollins US), The Wildings by Nilanjana Roy (Aleph Book Company) and Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto (Aleph Book Company) also coming from the sub-continent.
Australia is also well-represented, with Floundering by Romy Ash (Text), Mazin Grace by Dylan Coleman (University of Queensland), Tiger in Eden by Chris Flynn (Text), The Last Thread by Michael Sala (Affirm Press), and Beneath the Darkening Sky by Majok Tulba (published in the UK by Oneworld).
Nigerian authors Ifeanyi Ajaegbo, Chibundu Onuzo and E E Sule have also made the grade, for Sarah House (Picador Africa), The Spider King's Daughter (published in the UK Faber) and Sterile Sky (Heinemann) respectively.
Completing the shortlist are two Canada-originated novels Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron (with Oneworld in the UK) and The Headmaster's Wager by Vincent Lam (Fourth Estate in the UK); Disposable People by Ezekel Alan (CreateSpace) from Jamaica; Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera (Perera Hussein) from Sri Lanka and The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods by Jamala Safari (Umuzi) from South Africa.
Regional winners will each receive £2,500, with the overall winner scooping the £10,000 prize. The winning author will be announced at the Hay Festival this summer. The prize aims to "unearth, develop and promote the best new writing from across the Commonwealth", and is open to writers who have had their first novel published during the previous year.