The best thing about the announcement of literary prize nominations? Book nerds everywhere simultaneously add, like, ten new books to their reading list. Pencils at the ready? The 2017 Man Booker Prize longlist is here.
Established in 1969, the Man Booker Prize selects the single best work of fiction, written in English and published in the UK, each year. In addition to international acclaim and an essentially guaranteed boost in sales, winners are awarded a total of 52,500 euros, which is roughly equivalent to $61,273 American dollars. Previous winners include Salman Rushdie (Midnight's Children), Eleanor Catton (The Luminaries) and Margaret Atwood (The Blind Assassin). In 1997, Arundhati Roy won for her first novel The God of Small Things. Now, 20 years later, she is once again nominated, this time for her second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.
From 2005 to 2015, The Booker Prize Foundation also hosted the Man Booker International Prize, honoring the career contribution of one author to the "world stage" of fiction every two years. Beginning in 2016, the prize shifted; now awarded every two years for a single work that's been translated into English, the Man Booker International Prize awards both the writer and the translator, acknowledging the art and the skill required to share a work past its initial first language.
Here are the 2017 Man Booker Prize longlist finalists. The winner will be announced on October 17. That's plenty of time to catch up.
'4321' by Paul Auster
Paul Auster's latest novel, 4321, is a story of possibility. One Archibald Isaac Ferguson is born on March 3, 1947. Four identical Archibalds then embark on four parallel lives, experiencing their own individual loves and losses.
'Days Without End' by Sebastian Barry
Barely 17, Thomas McNulty escapes Ireland's Great Famine in Sebastian Barry's Days Without End and signs up for the United States Army. It's the 1850s, and Thomas and his fellow soldier John Cole embark on an epic journey across the nascent country, fighting in the Indian Wars.
'History of Wolves' by Emily Fridlund
More than anything, Emily Fridlund's A History of Wolves is a ghost story. Set in the northern Minnesota wilderness, 14-year-old Linda strikes up a relationship with the new family across the lake. What she learns and what she sees shapes her life's trajectory.
'Exit West' by Mohsin Hamid
What if, scattered among the war-torn areas of our world, there were doors that offered a magical chance of escape? That's the premise presented by Mohsin Hamid, in this heartbreaking novel of immigration, borders, and the things in our lives which refuse to stay within the lines.
'Solar Bones' by Mike McCormack
Once a year, on All Soul's Day, the dead of Ireland are allowed to return home. Mike McCormack's novel covers one such day.
'Reservoir 13' by Jon McGregor
When a 13-year-old girl goes missing in a quiet English town, time stops but life goes on. Jon McGregor's haunting mystery novel about the ways in which we measure our lives will get under your skin. Let it.
'Elmet' by Fiona Mozley
Fiona Mozley's debut novel investigates the precariousness of "home," and the ways in which both people and landscapes contribute to our sense of belonging and our sense of loss.
'The Ministry of Utmost Happiness' by Arundhati Roy
Arundhati Roy's first novel in 20 years, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness crosses the Indian subcontinent in a story of survival and love. Anchored by Anjum, a transgender woman who moves to a cemetery and reinvents herself, this scathing, devastating novel embodies the battling hatred and compassion so many of us have for our homelands.
'Lincoln in the Bardo' by George Saunders
The Civil War, President Lincoln, and a traditional Tibetan transitional state between life and death (the "bardo") come together in Lincoln in the Bardo to investigate love and life under the ever-present specter of death.
'Home Fire' by Kamila Shamsie
Kamila Shamsie's seventh novel, Home Fire, centers on an immigrant family living in London, the United States, and the Middle East. It's a searing meditation on family - the loyalty, the love, the sacrifice and, sometimes, the pain.
'Autumn' by Ali Smith
Autumn, Ali Smith's cyclical meditation on richness and wealth, on harvest, on living in an era that is both decidedly "of the now" and timeless, is the first in her four-part novel series, with each embodying a season.
'Swing Time' by Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith's Swing Time is a panoramic sweep of a novel (for long-time Smith fans, you know this is her specialty), spanning several continents and decades in an intertwining story of race and performance, love and familial responsibility.
'The Underground Railroad' by Colson Whitehead
Colson Whitehead's odyssey The Underground Railroad was so searingly impressive that Oprah Winfrey single-handedly pushed its release date up an entire month. Yes, really. Centering on Cora, a slave on a cotton plantation in antebellum Georgia, this novel runs alongside as she makes a bid for freedom, surviving on sheer tenacity and grit.