The six books selected for the 2017 Man Booker Prize shortlist were announced this morning, 13 September. Read our overview of the books and their authors, or click any title to download a free readers' guide.
4 3 2 1, Paul Auster (Faber & Faber)
On March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson's life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths.
Four Fergusons made of the same genetic material, four boys who are the same boy, will go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. Family fortunes diverge. Loves and friendships and intellectual passions contrast. Chapter by chapter, the rotating narratives evolve into an elaborate dance of inner worlds enfolded within the outer forces of history as, one by one, the intimate plots of the four Fergusons' stories rush on across the tumultuous and fractured terrain of mid-20th century America. A boy grows up - again and again and again.
Paul Auster is the best-selling author of Winter Journal, Sunset Park, Man in the Dark, The Brooklyn Follies, The Book of Illusions, and The New York Trilogy, among many other works. In 2006 he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature and inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Among his other honours are the Independent Spirit Award for the screenplay of Smoke and the Prix Medicis Etranger for Leviathan. He has also been shortlisted for both the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, and his work has been translated into more than 30 languages. He was born in 1947 and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
History of Wolves, Emily Fridlund (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, Orion Books)
Linda, age 14, lives on a dying commune on the edge of a lake in the Midwest of America. She and her parents are the last remaining inhabitants, the others having long since left amid bitter acrimony. She has grown up isolated both by geography and her understanding of the world, and is an outsider at school, regarded as a freak.
One day she notices the arrival of a young family in a cabin on the opposite side of the lake. She starts to befriend them, first their four-year-old son Paul, and then his young mother Patra, who is also lonely and isolated. For the first time she feels a sense of belonging that has been missing from her life.
Leo, the father, is a university professor and an enigmatic figure, perpetually absent. When he returns home, Linda is shunned by the family unit. Desperate to be accepted again, she struggles to resume her place in their home and fails to see the terrible warning signals, which have such devastating consequences.
Emily Fridlund was born in 1979 and grew up in Minnesota. She holds an MFA from Washington University in St. Louis and a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California. Her collection of stories, Catapult, was chosen by Ben Marcus for the Mary McCarthy Prize and will be published by Sarabande Books. She lives in the Finger Lakes region of New York. History of Wolves is her first novel.
Exit West, Mohsin Hamid (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House)
In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, Saeed and Nadia lock eyes across their classroom. After a while, they talk, he makes her smile and they start to fall in love. They try not to notice the sound of bombs getting closer every night, the radio announcing new laws, the curfews and the public executions.
Eventually the problem is too big to ignore: it's not safe for Nadia to live alone and she must move in with Saeed, even though they are not married, and that too is a problem. Meanwhile, rumours are spreading of strange black doors in secret places across the city, doors that lead to London or San Francisco, Greece or Dubai. One day soon the time will come for Nadia and Saeed to seek out one such door, joining the great outpouring of those fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world.
Mohsin Hamid writes regularly for the New York Times, the Guardian and the New York Review of Books, and is the author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist _(shortlisted for the 2007 Man Booker Prize), _Moth Smoke, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia and Discontent and its Civilisations. Born in 1971, he was mostly raised in Lahore, and has since lived between Lahore, London and New York.
Elmet, Fiona Mozley (JM Originals, John Murray)
Daniel is heading north. He is looking for someone. The simplicity of his early life with Daddy and Cathy has turned sour and fearful. They lived apart in the house that Daddy built for them with his bare hands. They foraged and hunted. When they were younger, Daniel and Cathy had gone to school. But they were not like the other children then, and they were even less like them now. Sometimes Daddy disappeared, and would return with a rage in his eyes. But when he was at home he was at peace. He told them that the little copse in Elmet was theirs alone. But that wasn't true. Local men, greedy and watchful, began to circle like vultures. All the while, the terrible violence in Daddy grew.
Elmet is a lyrical commentary on contemporary English society and one family's precarious place in it, as well as an exploration of how deep the bond between father and child can go.
Fiona Mozley was born in 1988 and grew up in York. She went to King's College, Cambridge, after which she lived in Buenos Aires and London. She is studying for a PhD in medieval history. Elmet is her first novel.
Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders (Bloomsbury)
On 22 February 1862, two days after his death, Willie Lincoln is laid to rest in a marble crypt in a Georgetown cemetery. That very night, shattered by grief, his father Abraham arrives at the cemetery, alone, under cover of darkness.
Over the course of that evening, Abraham Lincoln paces the graveyard unsettled by the death of his beloved boy, and by the grim shadow of a war that feels as though it is without end. Meanwhile Willie is trapped in a state of limbo between the dead and the living - drawn to his father with whom he can no longer communicate, existing in a ghostly world populated by the recently passed and the long dead.
Unfolding in the graveyard over a single night, narrated by a dazzling chorus of voices, Lincoln in the Bardo is a thrilling exploration of death, grief and the deeper meaning and possibilities of life.
George Saunders was born in 1958 and is the author of nine books, including Tenth of December, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the inaugural Folio Prize (for the best work of fiction in English) and the Story Prize (best short-story collection). He has received MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships and the PEN/Malamud Prize for excellence in the short story, and was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2013, he was named one of the world's 100 most influential people by Time magazine. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University.
Autumn, Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House)
Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. That's what it felt like for Keats in 1819.
How about autumn 2016? Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic once-in-a-generation summer.
Autumn is a meditation on a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, on what harvest means. This first in a seasonal quartet casts an eye over our own time. Who are we? What are we made of? Shakespearian jeu d'esprit, Keatsian melancholy, the sheer bright energy of 1960s Pop art: the centuries cast their eyes over our own history-making.
From the imagination of Ali Smith comes a shape-shifting series, wide-ranging in timescale and light-footed through histories, and a story about ageing and time and love and stories themselves.
Ali Smith was born in Inverness in 1962. She is the author of Free Love and Other Stories, Like, Other Stories and Other Stories, Hotel World, The Whole Story and Other Stories, The Accidental, Girl Meets Boy, The First Person and Other Stories, There but for the, Artful, How to be both, and Public library and other stories. Hotel World was shortlisted for the 2001 Booker Prize and the Orange Prize while The Accidental was shortlisted for the 2005 Man Booker and the Orange Prize. How to be Both won the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, the Goldsmiths Prize and the Costa Novel Award and was shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker and the Folio Prize. Ali Smith lives in Cambridge.
Share your thoughts about the books on Twitter and Instagram using #FinestFiction
Have you read any of the books? Leave a review on our Reading Groups for Everyone site
Find out more about the prize by visiting their website