For the first time, the Man Booker Prize for Fiction has been opened up to the whole English speaking world—which means that choosing the winner will be a more difficult task than ever. With the shortlist announced—six great books by authors from Britain, the United States, and Australia—the competition is fierce.
We decided to look at specific signals that our unique technology can detect on Twitter to predict a winner—read on to discover who we think will emerge victorious!
First up is Joshua Ferris’ To Rise At A Decent Hour, a tale about a contradictory man whose life is turned upside down when he is impersonated online. Ferris first won critical acclaim with his debut novel, Then We Came to the End, when it became a finalist for the National Book Award and won the PEN/Hemingway Award. With a glowing literary reputation, Ferris’ following book, The Unnamed, was largely hyped up, but failed to impress audiences because of its depressing topic matter. Four years later, Ferris has struck back with an impressive vengeance—this time employing the humor that critics loved so much.
The next American author on the list is Karen Joy Fowler with We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, a story revolving around the daughter of a psychology professor with a chimpanzee “sister.” Fowler is certainly a strong pick because of her gift for snappy diction and a loyal fan base that has formed since the debut of her wildly successful book, The Jane Austen Book Club (which was also made into a film) as well.
Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North depicts the horrors experienced by Allied soldiers that were forced to build a railway between Thailand and Burma under horrific conditions. Considered to be “the finest Australian novelist of his generation” by The Economist, each of Flanagan’s novels has received praise and numerous awards, marking him as one of the strongest competitors.
Take a journey through different characters’ heads with Neel Mukherjee’s aptly named, The Lives Of Others. An ambitious story of political and familial tension in West Bengal, the novel revolves around six members of an upper middle class Bengali family in Calcutta during the late Sixties. Although Mukherjee is considered “new,” he has won the Crosswood Book Award—an Indian book prize—and has recently been a hot topic on Twitter discussions.
Falling in love has never yielded such danger than in Howard Jacobson’s J, a tale that is set in the future where a world considers its past dangerous. Jacobson is no stranger to the Man Booker Prize—his novel, The Finkler Question, won the award in 2010—perhaps he can follow in the footsteps of Hilary Mantel, JM Coetzee, and Peter Carey, and win the prize twice.
Reading Ali Smith’s How to Be Both is like diving into a wildly colorful painting—the book features two interconnected stories that almost read like poetry. The lives of a girl named George and another named Francesco, along with their struggles with sexuality are mapped and plotted out in an unconventional fictional form. Smith’s third shortlisting for the Man Booker prize, her innovative use of scattered chronology and poetry-like writing has seen How to Be Both emerge as the bookies’* favourite.
After some analyzing, we’ve decided to cast our vote for Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North. We based our decision on the high volume of tweets the novel has been receiving compared to the others, with critics and celebrities alike blowing up the Twittersphere with mentions and praise.
Guess we’ll find out on October 14th!
But enough about what we think—what are your thoughts on who the winner might be, and why?
*A bookie is short for bookmaker – the place you go to place bets on sports and other events.