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The Booker shortlist


Kahnee

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Peter Carey - Parrot And Olivier In America

An exploration of American democracy, the novel is an improvisation on the life of Alexis de Tocqueville and described as an irrepressibly funny portrait of the impossible friendship between master and servant.

Australian-born Carey won the Booker Prize in 1988 for Oscar And Lucinda, which was turned into a film starring Ralph Fiennes, and again in 2001 for True History Of The Kelly Gang. He was shortlisted in 1985 for Illywhacker.

Sir Andrew Motion, chair of the judges, said of the novel: "It reminds you of what an amazingly multifarious number of things that a novel can do. He's an extremely clever writer in all events.

"He's one of the writers I feel most pleased to be alive at the same time as. When reading his books it's like being alive at the same times as Dickens, he's that good."

 

Emma Donoghue, Room

The idea for Donoghue's breakout novel was triggered by Josef Fritzl's incarceration of his daughter Elisabeth. The first half of the book takes place entirely within the 11ft-square room in which a young woman has spent her last seven years, since being abducted aged 19. The novel is told through the voice of her son, Jack, a five-year-old.

Donoghue was born in Dublin in 1969. She lives in Canada and her novels include Room, The Sealed Letter, Landing Touchy Subjects, Life Mask, The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits, Slammerkin, Kissing the Witch, Hood and Stirfry.

Sir Andrew said the novel managed to "say something memorable and profound about confinement and also about relief."

 

Damot Galgut - In A Strange Room

In A Strange Room is the "hauntingly beautiful evocation" of one man's search for love and for a place to call home. A young man makes three journeys that change his life through Greece, India and Africa.

South African Galgut was born in Pretoria in 1963. He wrote his first novel, A Sinless Season, at the age of 17. His other books include Small Circle Of Beings, The Beautiful Screaming Of Pigs, The Quarry, The Good Doctor and The Impostor. The Good Doctor was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2003.

Sir Andrew said the author had "rather languished in (fellow South African writer) Coetzee's shadow" in recent years.

He said that the book was "intense, unflinching, even a bit miserablist... but it also has an amazing sense of boldness about it. It's three linked stories... I was very struck by the audaciousness of that structure."

 

Howard Jacobson - The Finkler Question

The novel is described as the "scorching story" of friendship and loss, exclusion and belonging, and of the wisdom and humanity of maturity. It is also an exploration of what it is to be Jewish.

Julian Treslove, a professionally unspectacular former BBC radio producer, begins to question who he is after being attacked on his way home.

Columnist, novelist and critic Jacobson was born in Manchester in 1942. He has been longlisted twice for the Booker Prize for Kalooki Nights in 2006 and Who's Sorry Now? in 2002. Other novels include The Mighty Walzer and The Act of Love.

Sir Andrew said: "This is absolutely one of his best books. It's very funny, very well paced, and it's very important... about the question of Jewishness, what it consists of".

 

Andrea Levy - The Long Song

The Long Song is Levy's first novel in six years. Set on sugar cane plantations in 19th century Jamaica, it tells the story of July, the child of a Scottish overseer and one of the slaves on a plantation.

Levy, who lives in London, was born to Jamaican parents who came to Britain in 1948. Her four previous novels are Every Light In The House Burnin', Never Far From Nowhere, Fruit Of The Lemon and Small Island.

Small Island won the Orange Prize, the Orange Prize for Fiction Best Of The Best, the Whitbread Best Book Award and the Commonwealth Writer's Prize and appeared as a major two-part drama on BBC1 in 2009.

Sir Andrew said the novel was "an extraordinarily ambitious rewriting of a story which has been approached by a number of very distinguished writers over the years, including Toni Morrison." He said: "I think this is as good as, if not better than Toni Morrisons."

 

Tom McCarthy - C

C follows the short, intense life of Serge Carrefax, a man who surges into the electric modernity of the early 20th Century, transfixed by the technologies that will obliterate him.

When personal loss strikes Serge in his adolescence, his world takes on a darker and more morbid aspect.

McCarthy was born in 1969 and grew up in London. His creation, in 1999, of the International Necronautical Society (INS) has led to publications, installations and exhibitions in galleries and museums around the world. He has written two previous novels - Remainder and Men In Space - and one work of non-fiction, Tintin And The Secret Of Literature.

Sir Andrew said the novel was "a book of outstanding range, ambition, and narrative excitement".

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Would suggest a cheeky dollop of money on Jacobsen. I haven't read the newie but I do wonder if he's getting a Lifetime Achievement effort and/or delayed praise for The Act Of Love which was sublime.

His brother Stephen is an excellent painter too - very talented little bunch.

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