FORMER Inverness High School pupil Ali Smith has been shortlisted for Britain’s most prestigious literary award, the Man Booker Prize, for a third time.
Ms Smith, who lives in the Cambridge area, is the only Scottish born author to have appeared so many times among the final six authors.
She was previously nominated for Hotel World, winner of the Scottish Arts Council Book Award and the Encore Award, in 2001 and four years later for The Accidental, which won the Whitbread Award for Novel of The Year.
Her 2014 nomination is for her sixth novel, How To Be Both, which features the interconnected stories of a teenage girl called George and an Italian renaissance artist, Francesco del Cossa. The book has been published in two versions, one beginning with George’s story, the other with Francesco’s.
This is the first year that the prize is open to all authors writing in English, regardless of nationality and the 2014 shortlist features writers from the USA for the first time in Joshua Ferris with To Rise Again at a Decent Hour and Karen Joy Fowler with We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves.
Howard Jacobson is in the running to be the first British man to win the award twice with his novel J, having previously picked up the award in 2010 for The Finkler Question.
This year’s shortlist is completed by Australia’s Richard Flanagan with The Narrow Road to the Deep North and UK/Indian writer Neel Mukherjee with The Lives of Others.
The shortlist was announced this week by philosopher A.C. Grayling, who chairs this year’s judging committee.
"We had a lengthy and intensive debate to whittle the list down to these six," he commented,
"It is a strong, thought-provoking shortlist which we believe demonstrates the wonderful depth and range of contemporary fiction in English."
The 2014 judges will now re-read the shortlisted titles in order to select the winner, whose name will be revealed on Tuesday 14 October 2014 at a ceremony at London’s Guildhall. The winner announcement will be televised by the BBC, the prize’s media partner.
The shortlisted authors each receive £2500 and a specially bound edition of their book.
The winning author can expect a further £50,000 and a dramatic increase in book sales.
One bookmaker is offering odds of 7/2 on Ms Smith taking the prize this year, but placed American writer Ferris favourite at odds of 5/2.