LONDON – Zadie Smith's "On Beauty," (search) a tribute to "Howards End" set on a college campus, and Julian Barnes' "Arthur & George," a historical novel about Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle, were among the finalists announced Thursday for Britain's Man Booker Prize (search).
Others on the shortlist for the $91,800 award were John Banville's "The Sea," Sebastian Barry's "A Long Long Way," Kazuo Ishiguro's "Never Let Me Go" and Ali Smith's "The Accidental." Former Booker winners J.M. Coetzee, Salman Rushdie and Ian McEwan were among those who didn't make the final list.
The winner of the prize, open to writers from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth of former British colonies, will be announced at a ceremony in London on Oct. 10.
Chair of the judges John Sutherland said the quality of the 17 books in this year's long list had been particularly strong and judges faced a difficult decision in culling 11 entries for the shortlist.
"The strength of the year's competition can be measured by the fact that three good books by previous Man Booker winners were finally not selected," he said Thursday.
Barnes' novel is considered the favorite to win the Booker, Britain's most prestigious literary award. "Arthur & George" is based on the true story of Doyle's championing of a half-Indian solicitor, George Edalji, who was jailed in 1903 for mutilating horses in the English village of Great Wyrley. Doyle became convinced that Edalji was innocent of the crime and set out to clear his name.
Banville's "The Sea" follows a man who returns to the Irish seaside town of his youth to face traumatic memories of the past.
"A Long Long Way," also set in Ireland, is about an 18-year-old Catholic who decides to leave home in 1914 to fight for the Allied Forces as political and religious unrest escalate in his country.
Ishiguro, Japanese-born author and 1989 Booker Prize winner for "The Remains of the Day," focuses "Never Let Me Go" on the lives of three seemingly happy children at an idyllic institution in the English countryside.
Smith's "The Accidental" explores a mysterious visitor who bewitches a troubled family and turns their lives upside down.