The 6 Books Selected For the 2023 Booker Prize Shortlist

The six books that were shortlisted for the 2023 Booker Prize.

The 2023 Booker Prize winners for literature are going to be announced on November 26, 2023. For the last 50 years, the Booker Prize has brought the best works of fiction into the spotlight every year.

Every year, the jury picks the best work of English fiction and published in the UK and Ireland. The jury shortlists the best six novels for the prize before finally deciding on which one book and author stands out. For 2023, the shortlisted books and authors are listed below:

  1. The Bee Sting By Paul Murray  (Rs 899; Hamish Hamilton, a Penguin Imprint)
    This is Murray’s fourth book and it looks at the crises the Barnes family is going through. For the purpose of his book, Murray looked back at some of his friends from the Irish Midlands and brought them all under one roof as part of the Barnes family. Speaking about the characters of his book, Murray told The Guardian, “Each of them has their own problem to deal with.” He goes on to talk about how Dickie, the dad in the story, is intelligent, but loses his once-lucrative car business and how, instead of facing the music, he spends his days in the woods building an apocalypse-proof bunker with a renegade handyman. Meanwhile, even as his wife Imelda is selling her jewellery on eBay, their teenage daughter, Cass, a class topper, is binge drinking her way to her final exams. Amid all of this, their 12-year-old son PJ is finalising his plans to run away from home.
    The book looks at the lives of these four characters and tries to find that one particular moment that everything turned bad for them. Now that they have turned sour, can it change the directions of their individual and collective lives? Is there a happy ending to it all?
  2. This Other Eden By Paul Harding (Rs. 799; Hutchinson Heinemann)
    The 2010 Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction, Paul Harding has come out with another possible winner in This Other Eden. The book, inspired by historical events, is set at the beginning of the twentieth century. It tells the story of the expulsion of a small diverse community that has sought haven on Apple Island, an enclave off the coast of the United States. However, due to the prevailing segregation laws, these castaways face eviction. The novel begins with the narration of how this unique community came into being and gradually unfolds the histories of various families living there and their remarkable journeys.
  3. Study For Obedience By Sarah Bernstein (Rs. 799; Granta)
    The Booker Prize judges described the book as, “an absurdist, darkly funny novel about the rise of xenophobia as seen through the eyes of a stranger in an unnamed town – or is it?”
    This is Bernstein’s second novel and revolves around a woman who moves from her birthplace to a ‘remote northern country’ to work as a housekeeper for her brother. However, in a community that is already suspicious of incomers, a series of unfortunate events soon after her arrival make her start to feel a growing hostility pressing at the edges of her brother’s property. Inside the house, although she tends to her brother and his home with the utmost care and attention, he too begins to fall ill.
  4. If I Survive You By Jonathan Escoffery (Rs. 499; 4th Estate, a Harper Imprint)
    If I Survive You is Jonathan Escoffery’s debut novel and has enamoured the Booker Prize judges. The judges have lauded it for its “clarity, variety and fizzing prose”. The book is a set of eight interconnected stories that brings to light the struggles of an immigrant Jamaican family that’s striving to establish their lives in America. As the eight stories narrate the family’s encounters and move back and forth through geography and time, the readers are confronted by the immigrants’ eternal questions: who am I now and where do I belong? These questions begin with the very first story, “In Flux”, which asks young Trelawney the recurring question: “What are you?” The eight stories look at the lives of Trelawney and Delano and narrates their individual journeys through racism, homelessness and Jamaican heritage.
  5. Prophet Song By Paul Lynch (Rs. 599; Oneworld)
    A propulsive and unsparing book, Prophet Song is Paul Lynch’s fifth novel. The book, set in Ireland follows one woman’s attempts to save her family in a dystopic Ireland sliding further and further into authoritarian rule. It is a shocking, at times tender novel that is not soon forgotten. The Booker Prize judges said this about the book: “Prophet Song has one of the most haunting endings you will ever read. The book lives long in the mind after you’ve set it down.”
  6. Western Lane By Chetna Maroo (Rs. 450; Picador India)
    Western Lane is Indian-origin author Chetna Maroo’s debut novel and follows the life arc of a young girl’s struggle in sport. The story begins with the family learning to cope with the loss of their mother by immersing themselves in the game of Squash. In this debut novel, Maroo has managed to use the sport of squash both as context and as a metaphor. The novel talks about sisterhood, about growing up, all through crystalline language which reverberates like the sound “of a ball hit clean and hard…with a close echo”.

Walk into your nearest bookstore to read them or Whatsapp +91.8800200280 to order. Buy the book(s) and the coffee’s on us.

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