By JILL LAWLESS
LONDON (AP) — Hard-hitting novels about fractured families, a fractured Europe and the fractured state of race relations in the United States are among six finalists announced Tuesday for the prestigious Man Booker Prize .
Bookies' favorites to take the 50,000 pound ($66,000) fiction prize include "Hot Milk," a tale of parent-child conflict by British writer Deborah Levy; "All That Man Is," a portrait of masculinity in a fragmented Europe by Canadian-born British novelist David Szalay; and "The Sellout," a taboo-busting satire of race and racism by American author Paul Beatty.
The other contenders are Chinese-Canadian family saga "Do Not Say We Have Nothing" by Madeleine Thien; disturbing character study "Eileen" by American debut novelist Ottessa Moshfegh; and Graeme Macrae Burnet's Scottish Highlands murder story "His Bloody Project" — a rare crime novel to get the nod from Booker judges.
The books encompass murder, suicide and stunted lives, but the judges denied the shortlist was unremittingly bleak.
"These books may be very difficult and challenging, upsetting, but ... each one of those is transporting for the reader," said biographer Amanda Foreman, who chairs the judging panel.
Another judge, actress Olivia Williams, said that some of the novels were positively comic.
"'Hot Milk' had me laughing out loud," she said. "I was banned from reading 'The Sellout' in bed by my husband because I kept shaking, I was laughing so much."
The judges jettisoned some of the most famous names from the 13-book longlist, including two-time Booker winner J.M. Coetzee and Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout.
Other big-name writers with new books, including Ian McEwan and Don DeLillo, didn't even make the longlist.
Apart from Levy, a 2012 Booker finalist for "Swimming Home," most of the writers are relatively unknown. But Foreman said they are "the household names of the future."
She said the panel didn't set out to choose lesser-known authors, but looked for "courage and willingness to take risks."
The winner will be announced at a ceremony in London on Oct. 25.
Previously open to writers from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth, the Booker expanded in 2014 to include all English-language authors. Despite fears of U.S. dominance, there hasn't yet been an American winner of the prize, which usually brings the victor a huge boost in sales and profile.
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