Odds stacked against US novelists Joshua Ferris and Karen Joy Fowler, as shortlisted authors wait for announcement of winner: The Guardian

Neel Mukherjee, author of The Lives of Others.
Neel Mukherjee, author of The Lives of Others. Photograph: David Levenson/Getty Images

The US novelists Joshua Ferris and Karen Joy Fowler will have to beat the odds if one of them is to become the first American winner of the Man Booker prize, to be announced on Tuesday night in London.

For the first time, the £50,000 prize is open to any author writing originally in English and published in the UK, but Ferris’s book, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, described as a New York tale of existential dentistry, and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Fowler, a tale of family life where a psychologist father twins his daughter with a chimp, are the bookmakers’ outsiders.

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Neel

Walking into the prize ceremony for the Man Booker Prize in the knowledge that you could win one of the most prestigious literary prizes in the world should be the crowning moment in the career of any novelist writing in English.

But ask Neel Mukherjee whether he’s looking forward to his book, The Lives of Others, battling with works from the feted American author Joshua Ferris or the venerable past winner Howard Jacobson on Tuesday, and the response is close to total bafflement.

“What kind of question is that anyway?” he counters. “Of course I’m not. It’s going to be completely stressful.”

New Zealand novelist Eleanor Catton, Booker-winning author of The Luminaries, sets up grant to give writers ‘time to read’

EleanorCatton1Eleanor Catton, the youngest ever winner of the Man Booker prize, has announced that she will put the money from her latest awards win towards establishing a grant that will give writers “time to read”.

Catton’s The Luminaries, set during New Zealand’s 19th-century gold rush, took the Booker last year, when Catton was just 28. It has now won the Kiwi author the New Zealand Post best fiction and people’s choice awards, and Catton has said that she will use her winnings of NZ$15,000 (£7,500) to help other writers.

Chair of judges, AC Grayling, says it has been ‘vintage year’ for competition which this year includes US writers for first time: The Guardian

the-lives-of-othersHoward Jacobson, David Mitchell and Ali Smith are among the British heavyweight writers who will compete for the Man Booker prize in its first incarnation as a global literary award, it was announced on Wednesday, along with David Nicholls, writer of the bestsellers Starter for Ten and One Day.

Thirteen novels were named on the longlist for the prize, which for more than 40 years has rewarded only Commonwealth and Irish writers. The rules changed last year, sparking fears that it would quickly be dominated by Americans.

In the event, judges chose four Americans: Joshua Ferris, Siri Hustvedt, Karen Joy Fowler and Richard Powers. An almost American, Joseph O’Neill, who is an Irish-born US resident, was also named one of what is known as the Man Booker “dozen”.

RuthThe 2013 Man Booker-prize winner on the unfair treatment of female writers and why her book The Luminaries riled male critics of a certain age: The Guardian

“I have observed that male writers tend to get asked what they think and women what they feel,” says Eleanor Catton. “In my experience, and that of a lot of other women writers, all of the questions coming at them from interviewers tend to be about how lucky they are to be where they are – about luck and identity and how the idea struck them. The interviews much more seldom engage with the woman as a serious thinker, a philosopher, as a person with preoccupations that are going to sustain them for their lifetime.”

jhumpa_lahiri-620x412This is the last year for the Booker as we know it, before space is made for American writers. But will anything change, asks Shougat Dasgupta in Tehelka

Some Indian readers may still revere the Booker prize. Fifteen years ago, it represented the zenith of commercial possibilities for Indian writers working in English — prestige, tens of thousands in foreign currency, a welcome bump in sales, an international audience. There were a couple of obstacles: you had to write something called ‘literary fiction’ and write it well enough to convince inscrutable, whimsical judges. Still, for a time, it seemed like just being Indian was enough. Aravind Adiga won, man, you told yourself. Aravind Adiga.