And the Booker Prize nominees are. . .

Think of the Booker Prize as the Oscars of fiction books. They may not get as much buzz (less stunning gowns on red carpets), but they’re entirely as worthy of your attention. And this year’s nominees were just released.

The global award goes to what is deemed the best fiction book of the year, and it’s such a big deal that just getting on the list of nominees is a huge accomplishment. They just announced this year’s shortlist, and there are definitely some stunners.

Perhaps the most notable is Anne Tyler, who’s nominated for A Spool of Blue Thread. The New York Times describes the novel as a “quintessential American comedy,” that plays against the American dream. It follows a seriously twisted family, complete with the mother all the characters are embarrassed by but readers can’t help but love.

The novel promises to take family melodrama to a potentially uncomfortable level of realistic. If you want to know what I mean, I stumbled upon this quote so relatable it made me cringe:

“The disappointments seemed to escape the family’s notice, though. That was another of their quirks: they had a talent for pretending that everything was fine. Or maybe it wasn’t a quirk at all. Maybe it was just further proof that the Whitshanks were not remarkable in any way whatsoever.”

Tyler won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1989 for her novel Breathing Lessons, so another win could really solidify her place as America’s leading lady of fiction.

Also moving to the top of my reading list is the other American nominee, Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life. The story follows four college classmates who move to NYC post-graduation, following their dreams of acting, painting, and architecture. But as decades pass, their optimism darkens and their relationships are tested. As a new grad, I’m guessing the novel won’t exactly be comforting, but will hopefully serve as a crash course for starting to feel like a real adult.

Two British authors also made the cut: Tom McCarthy for Satin Island and Sunjeev Sahota for The Year of the Runaways. The two novels couldn’t be more opposite: Satin Island is a postmodern masterpiece that follows a “corporate anthropologist,” while The Year of the Runaways follows thirteen men in flight from India to England.

Rounding out the nominations are two great global picks. Chigozie Obioma from Nigeria was nominated for The Fisherman, a novel about a nine-year-old boy and his three brothers. When they go fishing, they run into a local madman with a mystic prophecy: one of the boys is destined to be killed by one of his siblings. As you can imagine, a happily-ever-after is out of the question.

Last on the shortlist is Marlon James, the Jamaican author of A Brief History of Seven Killings. The novel is a fictional account of a 1976 attack on Bob Marley that wounded him, his wife, his manager and more. Little was ever released about the attacks, but James turns one mysterious event into a vivid story that follows the gunmen, CIA agents, and even ghosts over decades.

The prize is announced on October 13, but with nominees like this, I don’t know how the judges will possibly choose just one. Lucky for us, we don’t have to — we can read them all.


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