Man Booker Prize announces 2018 shortlist

20 September 2018

  • It features two debut novels: one from the youngest author ever to make the list; and a novel in verse from an award-winning poet
  • This year sees a second shortlisting for Canadian Esi Edugyan
  • The list of six is dominated by women

Anna Burns, Esi Edugyan, Daisy Johnson, Rachel Kushner, Richard Powers and Robin Robertson are today, Thursday 20 September, announced as the six authors shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

Their names were announced this morning (20 September) by 2018 Chair of judges, Kwame Anthony Appiah, at a press conference at the offices of Man Group, the prize’s sponsor. He remarked that each of these novels is a miracle of stylistic invention in which the language takes centre stage.

The shortlist, which features four women and two men, covers a wide range of subjects, from an 11 year-old slave escaping a Barbados sugar plantation, to a D-Day veteran living with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Man Booker Prize is open to writers of any nationality writing in English and published in the UK and Ireland. This year’s shortlist recognises three writers from the UK, two from the US, and one from Canada.

Two novels from independent publishers, Faber & Faber and Serpent’s Tail, are shortlisted, alongside three from Penguin Random House (two from imprint Jonathan Cape and one from William Heinemann), and one from Pan Macmillan imprint Picador.

The 2018 shortlist of six novels

Author (country/territory) Title (imprint)
Anna Burns (UK) Milkman (Faber & Faber)
Esi Edugyan (Canada) Washington Black (Serpent’s Tail)
Daisy Johnson (UK) Everything Under (Jonathan Cape)
Rachel Kushner (USA) The Mars Room (Jonathan Cape)
Richard Powers (USA) The Overstory (Willian Heinemann)
Robin Robertson (UK) The Long Take (Picador)

Kwame Anthony Appiah comments:

‘All of our six finalists are miracles of stylistic invention. In each of them the language takes centre stage. And yet in every other respect they are remarkably diverse, exploring a multitude of subjects ranging across space and time. From Ireland to California, in Barbados and the Arctic, they inhabit worlds that not everyone will have been to, but which we can all be enriched by getting to know. Each one explores the anatomy of pain — among the incarcerated and on a slave plantation, in a society fractured by sectarian violence, and even in the natural world. But there are also in each of them moments of hope.

These books speak very much to our moment, but we believe that they will endure. And we look forward to re-reading all of them as we make our way towards what will inevitably be the very difficult choice of only one of these brilliantly imaginative works as this year's winner of the Man Booker Prize.’

Luke Ellis, CEO of Man Group, comments:

‘The Man Booker Prize continues to evolve over time, while staying true to its principle of celebrating literary excellence. Each of the books shortlisted this year will speak to the reader now and in years to come. Man Group is proud to support such a prestigious award and I would like to congratulate this exceptional group of authors.’

Facts about the 2018 shortlisted authors

  • At 27, Daisy Johnson is the youngest author ever to make the shortlist for her novel Everything Under, beating 2013 winner Eleanor Catton to the record.
  • Esi Edugyan, author of Washington Black, is the only 2018 contender to have been shortlisted previously (Half-Blood Blues, 2011).
  • Richard Powers, who was longlisted in 2014 (Orfeo), was inspired to write The Overstory by an ancient tree in California’s Santa Cruz mountain range.
  • Rachel Kushner spent time in US prisons to research The Mars Room, a gritty tale told from the perspective of a former lap-dancer serving two life sentences in an American women’s jail.
  • Anna Burns’ Milkman draws on the experience of Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Her first novel, No Bones, was also set in this period, and was shortlisted for the 2002 Orange Prize for Fiction (now the Women’s Prize).
  • Robin Robertson, the author of The Long Take — the first novel in verse, with photographs, to be in contention for the prize — is also the editor of Michael Ondaatje’s Warlight, which was longlisted this year.

The shortlist was selected by a panel of five judges: the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah (Chair); crime writer Val McDermid; cultural critic Leo Robson; feminist writer and critic Jacqueline Rose; and artist and graphic novelist Leanne Shapton.

The 2018 winner announcement

The 2018 winner will be announced on Tuesday 16 October in London’s Guildhall, at a dinner that brings together the shortlisted authors and well-known figures from the cultural world. The ceremony will be aired by the BBC, the prize’s broadcast partner.

In the meantime, there will be a number of public events featuring the shortlisted authors. These include an event at The Octagon Centre at the University of Sheffield, as part of the Off the Shelf Festival of Words on Friday 12 October and a discussion at The Times & Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival on Saturday 13 October. This forms part of a day of Man Booker celebrations, which includes the Cheltenham Booker: 1958, and a live performance of the 1983 Booker winner The Life and Times of Michael K by J. M. Coetzee. The traditional Man Booker Prize shortlist readings at the Southbank Centre will take place on Sunday 14 October, hosted by Damian Barr.

Further events with the winner will be announced in due course.

The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book. The winner will receive a further £50,000 and can expect instant international recognition. In the week following the 2017 winner announcement, sales of Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders increased by 1227%. Bloomsbury has to date sold over 230k copies of Lincoln across all formats, 70% of those sales coming after the win.

The Booker Prize Foundation provides funding for the Royal National Institute of Blind People to ensure that braille, giant print & audio versions of the shortlisted books are available for the visually impaired in time for the winner announcement. The majority of this year's shortlist is already available for readers in these formats. The Booker Prize Foundation has a longstanding partnership with RNIB to provide Man Booker Prize books to the tens of thousands of blind and partially sighted members of the RNIB Library.

The leading prize for quality fiction in English

First awarded in 1969, the Man Booker Prize is recognised as the leading prize for high quality literary fiction written in English. Its list of winners includes many of the giants of the last four decades, from Salman Rushdie to Hilary Mantel, Iris Murdoch to Ian McEwan. The prize has also recognised many authors early in their careers, including Eleanor Catton, Aravind Adiga and Ben Okri.

The rules of the prize were changed at the end of 2013 to embrace the English language ‘in all its vigour, its vitality, its versatility and its glory’, opening it up to writers beyond the UK and Commonwealth on condition that their novels are published in the UK. In 2018, a new rule was added specifying that any novel written originally in English and published in Ireland by an imprint formally established in Ireland was eligible for the prize.

Man Group, the global investment management firm, has sponsored the prize since 2002.

To hear the most up-to-date news on this year’s prize, listen to the Man Booker Prize Podcast series, or to learn more about the prize’s history and share your thoughts online, please visit:


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