Shehan Karunatilaka’s ‘Seven Moons of Maali Almeida’ shortlisted for Booker Prize

COLOMBO/LONDON – Sri Lanka’s Shehan Karunatilaka was named as a final contender for his The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida in this year’s Booker Prize for fiction awards unveiled in London on Tuesday (6).

Karunatilaka along with Zimbabwean novelist NoViolet Bulawayo (Glory) are the only two writers who are not from the British Isles or the United States to make it to the Booker Prize short list this year, which also features the oldest author and the shortest book ever to make the prestigious six-strong literary shortlist.

Considered one of Sri Lanka’s foremost authors, Karunatilaka emerged on the world literary stage in 2011, when he won the Commonwealth Prize, the DSL and Gratiaen Prize for his debut novel, Chinaman. Born in Galle, Karunatilaka grew up in Colombo, studied in New Zealand and has lived and worked in London, Amsterdam and Singapore. He currently lives in Sri Lanka.

The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, his long-awaited second novel, recounts the alcohol-soaked life of a retired sports journalist who sets out on a zany quest to track down a great cricketer of the 1980s who has mysteriously gone missing.

Octogenarian Englishman Alan Garner, who will turn 88 when the winner is announced on October 17, was shortlisted for Treacle Walker, which is the shortest finalist novel by word count.

Speaking about the overall shortlist, Neil MacGregor, chair of the 2022 judges, said: “They’re not easy books, even though they may be short. But like many great pleasures, some require hard work and we found them well worth the effort.”

Garner, who made his name with children’s fantasy titles and folk retellings, earned the nomination after six decades in print.

The shortlist, whittled down from a longlist of 13 announced in July, saw an equal split of men and women battling for the prize which can provide a career-changing boost in sales and public profile.

American Percival Everett was included for Trees, earning independent publisher Influx Press its first Booker shortlist place.

Fellow US writer Elizabeth Strout featured for Oh William! while Irish author Claire Keegan’s Small Things Like These completed the shortlist.

At 116 pages, Keegan’s is the shortest finalist by the number of pages in the Booker prize’s 53-year history.

“These are, above all, books that we have enjoyed,” MacGregor said as he unveiled the shortlist at an event in central London.

“They’re books that we want to recommend to others. They’re not too long and that’s maybe evidence that we’re looking at not just great writing, but also some great editing,” he added.

MacGregor noted most of the novels tackled “serious, sometimes tragic subjects” but all of them also featured “moments of high humour”.

The Booker is Britain’s foremost literary award for novels written in English. Its previous recipients include Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood and Hilary Mantel.




Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.