Marlon James on Tuesday became the first Jamaican shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction, with a novel inspired by an assassination attempt on Bob Marley.
James, 44, was nominated for “A Brief History of Seven Killings”, his third novel, which explores the 1976 attack on the Jamaican reggae music legend.
Two Americans, two Britons and Nigerian writer Chigozie Obioma were also among the six shortlisted for the annual prize, one of the highest-profile awards in English-language literature.
British author Tom McCarthy, the only nominee to have been shortlisted before, is recognised for “Satin Island”, while compatriot Sunjeev Sahota was nominated for “The Year of the Runaways”.
Obioma, shortlisted for his debut novel “The Fishermen”, is the second Nigerian to be nominated, following 1991 winner Ben Okri. Obioma is the youngest nominee this year at 28.
US writers Anne Tyler (“A Spool of Blue Thread”) and Hanya Yanagihara (“A Little Life”) also made the cut from the 13-strong longlist.
There are no former winners among the nominees.
“The writers on the shortlist present an extraordinary range of approaches to fiction,” said Michael Wood, chair of the five-member judging panel.
“They come from very different cultures and are themselves at very different stages of their careers.”
Until 2013, the Booker Prize was awarded for the best original full-length novel written in English by a citizen of the Commonwealth, the Republic of Ireland or Zimbabwe.
But last year the field was widened to any novel originally written in English and published in Britain.
The move was a bid to stamp the prize’s authority as the English-speaking world’s foremost literary award, crucially by opening it to US writers.
The winner receives £50,000 ($77,000, 68,000 euros) and the award all but guarantees an upsurge in book sales and worldwide readership.
Australian author Richard Flanagan won last year’s prize with “The Narrow Road to the Deep North”. The book has sold almost 800,000 copies worldwide.
This is the 47th year of the prize, which began in 1969.
The winner will be revealed at a ceremony on October 13 at London’s Guildhall.
Jonathan Ruppin, web editor for Foyles bookshops, tipped Yanigihara’s “A Little Life” to win the 2015 prize.
“The judges are evidently determined to reward books that do much more than simply tell a story, whether that be Marlon James’ intricate non-linear narrative, Hanya Yanigihara’s integration of so many well-realised characters or Tom McCarthy’s anthropological musings,” he said.
2015 Booker Prize shortlist:
Marlon James (JAM) — “A Brief History of Seven Killings”
Tom McCarthy (GBR) — “Satin Island”
Chigozie Obioma (NIG) — “The Fishermen”
Sunjeev Sahota (GBR) — “The Year of the Runaways”
Anne Tyler (USA) — “A Spool of Blue Thread”
Hanya Yanagihara (USA) — “A Little Life”