Powers, Edugyan and Johnson tipped to win Man Booker Prize

The prize, subject to intense speculation, usually brings the victor a huge boost in sales and profile

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: The Man Booker Prize shortlist of six books are arranged for a photograph during a press conference at Riverbank House on September 20, 2018 in London, England. The shortlisted books for the prestigious prize are Milkman by Anna Burns, Washington Black by Esi Edugyan, Everything Under by Daisy Johnson, The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner, The Overstory by Richard Powers and The Long Take by Robin Robertson. The 2018 winner, who will receive £50,000, will be announced on October 16, 2018. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

An environmental epic that has been likened to Moby Dick for trees, the story of an escaped slave and a powerful debut by a 27-year-old novelist are among favourites to win the Man Booker Prize for fiction on Tuesday.

American writer Richard Powers' arboreal novel The Overstory, Canadian novelist Esi Edugyan's Washington Black — about a slave who escapes from a sugar plantation in a hot-air balloon — and British author Daisy Johnson's Greek tragedy-inspired family saga Everything Under are competing for the 50,000 pound (Dh243,000) prize, which has a reputation for transforming writers' careers.

The other finalists are US novelist Rachel Kushner's The Mars Room, about a woman serving life in prison; Robin Robertson's The Long Take, a verse novel about a traumatized D-Day veteran journeying through troubled post-war American cities; and Anna Burns' Milkman, a story of family, community and violence set during Northern Ireland's deadly Troubles.

The winner will be announced during a black-tie ceremony at London's medieval Guildhall.

The prize, subject to intense speculation, usually brings the victor a huge boost in sales and profile.

Bookmaker Ladbrokes said The Overstory was the favourite to win, followed by Washington Black and Everything Under, with Johnson's book closing the gap thanks to a late flurry of bets. Johnson will be the youngest-ever Booker laureate if she wins.

This year's judges have favoured new talent over more established names. Of the six finalists, only Edugyan has been nominated before — for Half-Blood Blues in 2011 — and favourites including Canada's Michael Ondaatje didn't make the cut from the 13-novel longlist.

Founded in 1969, the prize was originally open to British, Irish and Commonwealth writers. Americans have been eligible since 2014, and there have been two American winners — Paul Beatty's The Sellout in 2016 and George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo in 2017.

This year's finalists include three UK authors, two Americans and a Canadian. A third consecutive American victor could revive fears among some UK writers and publishers that the prize is becoming too US-centric.


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Here is the Man Booker Prize 2018 shortlist