Who made the cut? The shortlist for the Man Booker Prize was released this morning, culling the contenders from 13 to six. The prize is awarded annually to an original novel, written in English and published in the United Kingdom. Previously, it was open only to authors who lived in the Commonwealth, but was expanded in 2014 to include writers of all nationalities.
Last year's winner was Marlon James, for his celebrated novel, "A Brief History of Seven Killings." James is from Jamaica, and teaches at Macalester College in St. Paul.
The 2016 winner will be announced Oct. 25.
• Earlier: 2016 Man Booker Prize longlist
"The Sellout" by Paul Beatty — U.S.
When you meet the narrator of "The Sellout," he's smoking marijuana in front of the Supreme Court, on trial for bringing back slavery. Things only escalate from there, as the narrator — a black man with a knack for urban farming — reflects on the events that brought him to this point. There are no "Stop" or "Yield" signs in Paul Beatty's savage satire that rips apart "post-racial America." It's a comic masterpiece of epic proportions.
"Hot Milk" by Deborah Levy — U.K.
This is Deborah Levy's second trip to the Man Booker shortlist. "Hot Milk" centers on the put-upon Sofia, who has put all her finances on the line to bring her mother, Rose, to a mysterious clinic in southern Spain, in the hope of curing Rose's unexplained paralysis. But the doctor has no answers — only odd advice — and Sofia finds herself swept up in the strange atmosphere of the small beach town.
"His Bloody Project" by Graeme Macrae Burnet — U.K.
"His Bloody Project" opens with death: a grisly triple murder in the Scottish Highlands in 1869. The accused, Roderick Macrae, leaves no doubt in his memoir as to his guilt. But the man appointed as his advocate is determined to get at the why. This literary thriller is told entirely through documents — the accounts of the villagers, Macrae's memoir, trial transcripts and more — breathing new and twisted light into the thriller form.
"Eileen" by Ottessa Moshfegh — U.S.
Ottessa Moshfegh's unsettling novel follows Eileen Dunlop, a young woman trapped between caring for her alcoholic father at home and plugging away as a secretary at a juvenile correctional facility for teenage boys. But then comes a spark: an alluring new co-worker capable of charming anyone and everyone, including Eileen. Eileen hopes Rebecca Saint John could be her ticket to a new life, but she opens much darker doors instead.
"All That Man Is" by David Szalay — U.K., Canada
"All That Man Is" follows the lives of nine men, scattered across Europe, from the suburbs of Prague to a Cyprus hotel. "These nine lives form an ingenious and new kind of novel, in which David Szalay expertly plots a dark predicament for the twenty-first-century man," Graywolf Press writes.
"Do Not Say We Have Nothing" by Madeleine Thien — Canada
"Do Not Say We Have Nothing" brings two generations of a Chinese family to life, from the Cultural Revolution to Tiananmen Square. The family's story is fractured, extended and marred by tragedies and trauma, its fate inextricably tied to political revolutions. The book bounces down the family tree until we meet Marie, a mathematician, who pieces her family story back together again.