The prestigious Man Booker Prize could see its first-ever American winner this year. However, bets are on Canadian author Madeleine Thien and her tale of a family that decides to take in a Chinese refugee.
Set initially in Canada in 1991, Madeleine Thien's novel "Do Not Say We Have Nothing" tells the story of a young girl and her mother who take in a Chinese refugee that had fled China following the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
Thien's book is one of six in a shortlist that has been celebrated for taking risks and valuing newcomers over established names. The winner of this year's Man Booker Prize will be announced Tuesday evening at a gala in London.
"The final six reflect the centrality of the novel in modern culture - in its ability to champion the unconventional, to explore the unfamiliar, and to tackle difficult subjects," said jury chair Amanda Foreman.
Bookmakers Ladbrokes has given Thien (pictured above) odds of 2/1. British author Graeme Macrae Burnet with his novel "Hi Bloody Project" has been tipped at 3/1.
Set in rural, 19-century Scotland, Burnet's book recounts the story of a poor tenant farmer who murders the village administrator and his family. His Glasgow-based publisher is a two-person outfit that is struggling to make ends meet. A win could make all the difference for them.
A shortlist that takes risks
The shortlist also includes "Hot Milk" by South-African-born British author Deborah Levy. Set in a Spanish village, she portrays a strained mother-daughter relationship. "All That Man Is," by Canadian-British author David Szalay, crosses various countries to trace the lives of nine men.
Two American authors have also made the shortlist. Ottessa Moshfegh is in the running with "Eileen," which depicts a disturbed woman who is responsible for caring for her alcoholic father while also working in a juvenile prison. "The Sellout," a satirical novel by Paul Beatty, explores racial tensions in a fictional Los Angeles neighborhood.
Should one of the two US authors claim the award, it would be a first. The Man Booker Prize was open only to writers from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth until 2014, at which point it was expanded to include all English-language authors.
Last year's winner wasMarlon James of Jamaica. "A Brief History of Seven Killings," inspired by a 1976 murder attempt on reggae star Bob Marley, stood out for employing Jamaican dialect Harlem slang, and a great deal of scatological language.
The Man Booker Prize was founded in 1969 and is endowed with 50,000 pounds ($61,000). Previous winners include Ian McEwan, J.M. Coetzee, Arundhati Roy and Margaret Atwood.
kbm/ss (AP, AFP, dpa)