Indian-American novelist Jhumpa Lahiri joins five other literary heavyweights at the prestigious Man Booker Prize ceremony at London.
The 46-year-old author is up against the bookies’ favourite,Jim Crace’s ‘Harvest’,for the 50,000 pound award to be presented by Camilla,Duchess of Cornwall,at London’s Guildhall on Tuesday night.
Eleanor Catton,the youngest writer to make the cut at 27 with her book ‘The Luminaries’,has emerged as another close rival in the betting world.
London-born Lahiri is in the running with ‘The Lowland’,a tale about two brothers,Subhash and Udayan,brought up in Calcutta in the late 1960s.
Raised in London,Boston and Rhode Island by immigrant parents from West Bengal, the book is Lahiri’s second novel and fourth book.
She has enjoyed the limelight ever since her first collection of short stories,’The Interpreter of Maladies’,won the Pulitzer Prize.
Her first novel,’The Namesake’,was turned into a film by Mira Nair,and her second book of stories,’Unaccustomed Earth’,became a bestseller as soon as it was published.
This year’s Booker shortlist,announced last month,features writers of different nationalities,including Canada,Britain,Ireland,New Zealand and,for the first time in the prize’s history,Zimbabwe.
Robert Macfarlane,chair of the judges,said the shortlist was “instantly striking” because of its “global range”.
“This is a shortlist that crosses continents,that joins countries and that spans centuries. These novels are all about the strange ways in which people are brought together and the painful ways in which they are held apart,” he added.
Others in the race this year include NoViolet Bulawayo’s ‘We Need New Names’,about a Zimbabwean girl coming of age in the US.
Ruth Ozeki’s ‘A Tale For The Time Being’ tells the story of a diary washed ashore inside a Hello Kitty lunchbox and the profound effect it has on the woman who discovers it.
Colm Toibin’s ‘The Testament of Mary’ is about the mother of Jesus grieving angrily years after her son’s crucifixion.
At a little over 100 pages,it would be the shortest novel to win the Booker.
A week after the shortlist was announced,the Man Booker organisers announced that authors writing in English from all corners of the globe would be eligible for the prize from 2014.
The six shortlisted writers are each awarded 2,500 pounds and presented with a hand-bound edition of their book.
This year marks the 45th year of the prize,which was won last year by Hilary Mantel for ‘Bring Up the Bodies’,making her the first woman and first Briton to win the coveted award twice.