Colm Toibin and Jhumpa Lahiri are among six finalists for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, the U.K.’s most prestigious literary award.
Sponsored by hedge-fund manager Man Group Plc., the annual contest nets the winner 50,000 pounds ($78,550) and the promise of an almost certain increase in book sales.
“We were drawn to novels that sought to extend the power and possibilities of the form,” Robert Macfarlane, chairman of this year’s judging panel and an author and academic, told journalists at Man Group’s London headquarters. ‘‘We were looking for originality.’’
He also praised the global range of the shortlist: The six authors are of six different nationalities, and their novels collectively span centuries as well as continents. All, Macfarlane said, ‘‘are about ways of connecting.’’
Toibin, a finalist for the third time, was tapped for “The Testament of Mary” (Viking), a reworking of the Gospels as told by Jesus’s mother. Lahiri made the final round with “The Lowland” (Bloomsbury), which tracks the life of an Indian family torn apart by political extremism.
The other finalists are: NoViolet Bulawayo for her first novel “We Need New Names” (Chatto); Eleanor Catton for ‘‘The Luminaries’’ (Granta); past finalist Jim Crace for “Harvest” (Picador); and Ruth Ozeki’s “A Tale for the Time Being” (Canongate).
It took the judges 10 months and eight meetings to winnow down this year’s more than 150 entries. The contest is designed to celebrate the best novel written by a citizen of the British Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland and published this year, and has grown to dominate the U.K. literary calendar since it was first awarded in 1969.
Last year’s winner, ‘‘Bring Up the Bodies’’ by Hilary Mantel, has now sold over half a million copies in the U.K. alone. The 2013 winner is scheduled to be announced at a black tie dinner in London’s medieval Guildhall on Oct. 15.
The betting odds at Ladbrokes: Crace 5/2, Toibin 7/2, Catton 4/1, Ozeki 5/1, Lahiri 6/1 and Bulawayo 6/1.
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