Biting satires dominate Booker shortlist, winner to be announced on Oct 17

LONDON: A barbed political satire about the fall of an African dictator, told from the perspective of talking animals. A mordantly comic novel about the inescapable horrors of racism in America. A bleak but slyly funny story that explores the trauma of Sri Lanka’s civil wars. These potent satirical novels are among the six finalists for the Booker Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious literary awards. This year’s shortlisted novels, announced on Tuesday, included authors from five countries and four continents,and encompassed a diverse range of prose styles and subject matters, from quiet, introspective literary fiction to fantasy and magical realism.
Several of the novels recognised by judges this year deploy humour, myth and allegory to tackle painful chapters of history. In her novel “Glory”, Zimbabwean writer NoViolet Bulawayo obliquely tackles the downfall of autocrat Robert Mugabe, through a narrative featuring a cast of animals — horses, donkeys, dogs, goats, chickens and a crocodile.
“The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida,” a mythic story by Sri Lankan novelist Shehan Karunatilaka, follows a photographer who wakes up dead, in an underworld where he encounters victims of political violence. And in his novel “The Trees”, Percival Everett lampoons the stain of racism in America, with a story about a pair of Black detectives who investigate a series of murders that echo the lynching of Emmett Till.
The other authors on the shortlist are Irish writer Claire Keegan, for “Small Things Like These,” a slim novel of 116 pagesabout the unmarried women and their children who suffered in Ireland’s Magdalene laundries; English fantasy writer Alan Garner, for “Treacle Walker,” a dreamlike story about a boy who has magical visions; and American novelist Elizabeth Strout for “Oh William!,” about a grieving woman who helps her ex-husband investigate his troubled family history.
Judges made selections from 169 novels The winner, who will get a prize of $58,000 will be announced at a ceremony in London on October 17.

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