A psychological crime thriller set in the Scottish Highlands and the tale of a disturbed young woman in 1960s Massachusetts are on the shortlist for the prestigious Man Booker prize which was unveiled Tuesday (Sept 13).
Nobel-winner J.M. Coetzee failed to make the six-name list for the world's leading English-language fiction award, which featured only one previous nominee, South African-born British author Deborah Levy.
Her "Hot Milk" is a story of an intense relationship between a sickly mother and her daughter set in a small Spanish fishing village which the jury said in a statement examines "female rage and sexuality".
Scottish writer Graeme Macrae Burnet's "His Bloody Project" thriller "paints a painfully realistic picture of poverty in the tiny crofting community of Culduie in the Scottish Highlands," the jury said.
First-time author Ottessa Moshfegh, a Boston-born 35-year-old, was selected for "Eileen", a portrait of "an unassuming yet disturbed young woman" trapped between caring for her alcoholic father in a squalid house and her job as a secretary at a boys' prison.
The three other books shortlisted are David Szalay's "All That Man Is", a portrait of masculinity, Madeleine Thien's "Do Not Say We Have Nothing" about classical music in revolutionary China and Paul Beatty's "The Sellout", a satire on US urban life.
"The final six reflect the centrality of the novel in modern culture — in its ability to champion the unconventional, to explore the unfamiliar, and to tackle difficult subjects," jury chair Amanda Foreman, a historian, said in a statement.
"As a group we were excited by the willingness of so many authors to take risks with language and form," she said.
The Foyles bookshop chain said in a statement that the shortlist was "excitingly wide-open, with Deborah Levy the only well-known author left".
The winner will be announced in London on October 25.