Booker Finalists Are Named

September 9, 2005
Booker Finalists Are Named

Family secrets and divided loyalties are the subjects of the six books chosen yesterday as finalists for the Man Booker Prize, perhaps the most distinguished prize for literary fiction in the English-speaking world.

The winner, who will receive £50,000, or about $92,000, will be announced on Oct. 10. The shortlist of six authors, four men and two women, was chosen from 109 entries that had been narrowed to 17 novels last month. The Booker competition is open to citizens of the British Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland.

The shortlist:

  • The Sea by John Banville, published in Britain by Picador and to be released in the United States in March by Alfred A. Knopf. It tells the story of Max Morden, who is led by a dream to return to the Irish coastal town of Ballyless, the site of a distant trauma that has both haunted and shaped his life. Mr. Banville, 59, was on the shortlist for the 1989 Booker with The Book of Evidence.
  • Arthur & George by Julian Barnes, published by Jonathan Cape and scheduled for release here in January by Knopf. It brings together Arthur Conan Doyle and George Edalji, who grew up worlds apart in late 19th-century Britain but were united by a sensational sequence of events in the early 1900's. Mr. Barnes, 59, has been shortlisted twice before, in 1984 for Flaubert's Parrot and in 1998 for England, England.
  • A Long, Long Way by Sebastian Barry, published by Faber & Faber in Britain and by Viking in the United States. It evokes the camaraderie and sadness of war as experienced by Willie Dunne, an 18-year-old Irish recruit who fights for the British Crown in World War I just as Ireland begins its move toward independence. Mr. Barry, 50, has published two previous novels.
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, winner of the 1989 Booker Prize for The Remains of the Day, was published in Britain by Faber & Faber and released here in April by Knopf. It tells the story of three friends who slowly confront the truth about their seemingly idyllic childhood in the English countryside. Mr. Ishiguro, 50, who was born in Japan but moved to Britain in 1960, has also been shortlisted for the Booker twice previously, in 1986 and 2000.
  • The Accidental by Ali Smith, which tells of the summer holiday of the Smart family, first fractious but then bewitched by the arrival of a mysterious guest who just never left. Published by Hamish Hamilton and being released here in January by Pantheon, the book is the second by Ms. Smith, 43, to make the shortlist, following Hotel World in 2001.
  • On Beauty by Zadie Smith, published by Hamish Hamilton and later this month in the United States by the Penguin Press. It tells of male lust and female friendship in two families in Wellington, Mass. Ms. Smith, 29, is the author of White Teeth, which was on the New York Times best-seller list for three weeks in 2000.

The early favorite, according to Ladbrokes, the British oddsmaker, is Mr. Barnes's book, at 6 to 4, followed by Mr. Barry's, at 4 to 1. Last year, however, the prize went not to the favorite, David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, but to The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst.


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