Man Booker Prize judges tell authors: stop being so long-winded

The judging panel of the Man Booker Prize Val McDermid Leanne Shapton Kwame Anthony Appiah Jacqueline Rose and Leo Robson with the shortlisted books

The judging panel of the Man Booker Prize Val McDermid Leanne Shapton Kwame Anthony Appiah Jacqueline Rose and Leo Robson with the shortlisted books

The list features four female authors and three British authors in total, as well as two American authors: Rachel Kushner for The Mars Room and Richard Powers for The Overstory.

Born in 1990, Johnson is not the first 27-year old to make the final Booker line-up, although she is the youngest: in 2013, New Zealander Eleanor Catton became the youngest ever shortlisted writer when she was 27, going on to win the prize at the age of 28 for her novel The Luminaries.

"This is not a complaint against the very idea of a long, immersive read - one of the books on our shortlist is probably the longest book we read - but the chastening pencil has its role, and subtraction can be as potent as addition". Alongside Appiah, the judging panel includes crime writer Val McDermid, feminist writer Jacqueline Rose, cultural critic Leo Robson, and graphic novelist Leanne Shapton, who is also known for being an artist.

The judges said the list was dominated by dark themes of anxiety and racism, which each novel exploring the "anatomy of pain".

McDermid said that the novel is summarised by the word "fluidity", in myth, story and in gender, in a retelling of the tragic Oedipus myth.

Anna Burns' Milkman draws on the experience of Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

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Rachel Kushner spent time in United States prisons to research The Mars Room, a gritty tale told from the perspective of a former lap-dancer serving two life sentences in an American women's jail. It grapples, in the words of Appiah, with "daily violence'". At 432 pages, shortlisted Canadian author Esi Edugyan' Washington Black was one of the longest works submitted.

Powers has been selected for The Overstory, which sees nine strangers "summoned by trees".

The judges responded to the inclusion of non-UK authors with chair Appiah saying they "do not check writers" passports' but simply read the books.

Edugyan previously appeared on the Man Booker short list in 2011 with her book "Half-Blood Blues", which focused on a black jazz musician who goes missing after being arrested in Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

The victor of the Man Booker Prize will be awarded 50,000 pounds (CAD $86,000) on October 16 at a London ceremony.

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