Tom McCarthy, Marlon James, Chigozie Obioma, Sunjeev Sahota, Anne Tyler and Hanya Yanagihara have been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015.
The shortlist for the £50,000 prize was announced today (Tuesday) at a press conference in London.
The winner will be announced at a ceremony in London’s Guildhall on 13th October.
Chair of judges Michael Wood said in the press conference that he was "delighted" by the diversity of the shortlist. "We were not looking for diversity, and it could have been a very different list. We were slightly relieved the diversity was there," he said.
The judges agreed on all the shortlisted novels, but Wood said the group had "terrific arguments...violent but friendly".
Wood added: "Only on rare occasions does celebration come so closely aligned with regret. The regret of what we left out was tempered by the enormous excitement we have in presenting the six books on the shortlist.
"We re-read all 13 books on the longlist and in the process we rediscovered new pleasures in each. The writers on the shortlist present an extraordinary range of approaches to fiction. They come from very different cultures and are themselves at very different stages of their careers."
Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings (Oneworld Publications) is set over three decades. It explores the story of seven gunmen who stormed Bob Marley’s house in Jamaica, and spans a number of continents. James is the first Jamaican-born author to be shortlisted for the prize.
Tom McCarthy, the only author to have been previously nominated (for C in 2010), is shortlisted for Satin Island (Jonathan Cape), about a character call U. who works for an elite consultancy in London. At 28 years-old, Nigeria’s Chigozie Obioma is the youngest author to be shortlisted for his debut The Fishermen (One, Pushkin Press), about four young brothers in a small Nigerian town who encounter a madman. Obioma is the same age as 2013 winner Eleanor Catton.
Sunjeev Sahota is shortlisted for The Year of the Runaways (Picador), telling the story of 13 men from India living in a house in Sheffield and searching for a new life. Anne Tyler makes the list for A Spool of Blue Thread (Chatto & Windus), a novel about different generations of the Whitshank family and Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life (Picador) focuses on the friendship of four graduates who move to New York. At 736 pages, it is the longest book on this year’s shortlist.
The shortlist reveals books by two independent publishers - Oneworld Publications and One, an imprint of Pushkin Press - have made it onto the Booker shortlist, while Penguin Random House have two titles on the list (published by imprints Jonathan Cape and Chatto & Windus), as does Picador, an imprint of Pan Macmillan.
The judging panel is this year chaired by author and academic Michael Wood, who is joined by critic, broadcaster and editor Ellah Allfrey, novelist John Burnside, the Spectator’s literary editor Sam Leith, and author Frances Osborne.
Each of the shortlisted authors will receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book.
The shortlist was selected from a longlist of 13 novels – known as the Man Booker Dozen. Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread is the bestselling of the longlisted novels.
Cathy Rentzenbrinck, acting Books Editor of The Bookseller, said: "It’s a spectacular list and I’m particular pleased to see Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life make it through to the next stage as it is simply an astonishing literary experience. And what a joy to see a prize shortlist that isn’t dominated by middle-aged white men. As a reader the list excites me and I’ll definitely read it all this year."
She added: "I’m sad not to see The Green Road by Anne Enright on there as it is such a fine and accomplished novel but then there are always books you feel disappointed about - it’s part of the Man Booker Prize fun."
Jonathan Ruppin, web editor for Foyles, said that A Little Life had to be regarded as "the favourite".
He said: "It scoops you out emotionally, but, more than that, it's put together so deftly and with such elegance that it achieves things from a technical standpoint - integrating so many well-realised characters into a coherent and gripping narrative - that would be beyond most authors. It's the book on the shortlist that most obviously exhibits the characteristics of a future classic.”
He added that the shortlist "marks the Man Booker Prize's pre-eminence in promoting the novel as an artform."
"The judges are evidently determined to reward books that do much more than simply tell a story, whether that be Marlon James' intricate non-linear narrative, Hanya Yanigihara's integration of so many well-realised characters or Tom McCarthy's anthropological musings,” Ruppin said.
In 2014 the prize was won by Australian Richard Flanagan, for his sixth novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Chatto). The novel, set during World War Two, was inspired by the author's father's experiences in a prisoner of war camp. It was described as "a literary masterpiece".
The Man Booker Prize is sponsored by Man Group.