Exit West, Mohsin Hamid’s magical-realist, anti-dystopian take on the current global refugee crisis, has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017.
The jury of the prestigious annual literary prize announced this year’s six-novel shortlist on Wednesday, cutting down from a 13-book longlist they had selected earlier. Hamid is joined on the shortlist by three American and two British writers. The shortlisted novels are:
4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Elmet by Fiona Mozley
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Autumn by Ali Smith
Exit West follows a couple’s journey from an unnamed war-torn city in the East to cities in the West through ordinary doors that have suddenly and mysteriously acquired teleportation capabilities and are being used by migrants and militants to escape from and arrive at conflict zones respectively. Read Papercuts Associate Editor Torsa Ghosal’s review of Exit West on the DWL blog.
The 2017 jury chairperson Lola Young described Exit West as a “subtle, compact piece of writing”. Young said Hamid went for “the human element” and “the depiction of an emotional landscape” rather than “a documentary of realist narrative”, according to the New York Times.
Three South Asian writers – Hamid, Kamila Shamsie (Home Fire), and Arundhati Roy (The Ministry of Utmost Happiness) – were on the longlist for the 2017 prize. Earlier, we had conducted a readers’ poll on the blog to see which of the three authors they thought would make it to the shortlist. Roy led that poll with 53% of the total votes, but as it turns out her return to fiction after 20 years didn’t make the cut. Hamid had received only a quarter of the votes on the DWL poll.
This is Hamid’s second shortlist nomination for the Man Booker Prize. He was shortlisted for the fiction prize for the first time in 2007 for The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
The winner of the £50,000 prize will be announced on 17 October 2017.