Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2006.

Position:Kiran Desai's 'The Inheritance of Loss'

NOW IN ITS 37TH YEAR, the Man Booker Prize for Fiction is one of the world's most prestigious literary prizes, awarded to the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the British Commonwealth or Republic of Ireland. Last year's winner was The Sea by John Banville. The longlist of nominees was announced in August, and September's shortlist narrowed the field to six books. The winner will be announced shortly after we go to press.

The Shortlist

THE INHERITANCE OF LOSS | KIRAN DESAI: In 1980s India, in a small community at the Himalayas foothills and Nepalese border, political unrest threatens the calm of a retired judge, his cook, and his orphaned teenage granddaughter.

(**** SELECTION Mar/Apr 2006) "Kiran Desai's extraordinary new novel manages to explore, with intimacy and insight, just about every contemporary international issue: globalization, multiculturalism, economic inequality, fundamentalism, and terrorist violence." PANKAJ MISHRA, NEW YORK TIMES

THE SECRET RIVER | KATE GRENVILLE: In 19th-century London, petty criminal William Thornhill is sentenced and transported to New South Wales's penal colony. When he and his family discover an opportunity to settle near the Hawkesbury River, they must conquer their fear of the Australian bush and its natives.

"The Secret River is a masterwork, a book that transcends historical fiction and becomes something deeply contemporary and pressing." BETH KEPHART, CHICAGO TRIBUNE

CARRY ME DOWN | M. J. HYLAND: John Egan, an 11-year-old, six-foot giant with a gift for identifying tellers of tall tales, narrates his family's move to Dublin's housing projects, where school, a street gang, and his unstable home life jeopardize his sanity.

"Any novel that starts with a father and son drowning kittens in the bathtub doesn't promise to be a lot of fun, but Carry Me Down is not all plodding grimness.... This is an unsentimental and sometimes astonishing journey into a damaged life." CHARLES MATTHEWS, DALLAS MORNING NEWS

IN THE COUNTRY OF MEN | HISHAM MATAR: Suleiman, the nine-year-old son of a dissident, tries to makes sense of his cloistered childhood and his family's lives in Libya in 1979, under the Qaddafi regime.

"In describing the world of seas and mulberries [Matar] is a sensualist; when writing of executions and arrests he is a nuanced observer with a gift for conveying both absurdity and raw emotion." KAMILA SHAMSIE, GUARDIAN [U.K.]

MOTHER'S MILK | EDWARD ST. AUBYN: London barrister Patrick...

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