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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Robert Dex and Arts Correspondent

Half of authors on newly revealed Booker Prize 2023 shortlist called Paul

Six authors from across the globe have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2023 and half of them share the first name Paul.

The Booker Prize recognises talent from around the world and has previously made authors including Margaret Atwood, Hilary Mantel and Sir Salman Rushdie winners.

This year’s shortlist was announced on Thursday by chair of judges, novelist Esi Edugyan, at an event held at the newly reopened National Portrait Gallery in London.

None of the six authors have been shortlisted for the prize before and their books explore themes including immigration, financial hardship, the persecution of minorities, political extremism and erosion of personal freedom.

North American writers lead the pack, with the list comprising two American authors and one Canadian author, with two novels from Irish writers also on the list.

British author Chetna Maroo made the shortlist with her novel Western Lane, a book about grief, sisterhood and playing squash.

Irish novelist Paul Lynch also made the cut with his book Prophet Song, about a scientist whose husband is taken away by the newly formed Irish secret police.

Fellow Irish writer Paul Murray was recognised for The Bee Sting, which follows an Irish family facing financial and emotional troubles.

American novelist Jonathan Escoffery is on the list for If I Survive You, a book set in the 1970s and following a Jamaican family in Miami as they endure recession, racism and Hurricane Andrew.

Canadian author Sarah Bernstein’s Study For Obedience, about a young woman who moves from the place of her birth to be housekeeper to her brother, has also made the list.

Meanwhile, American author Paul Harding is recognised for This Other Eden, about Apple Island, an enclave off the coast of America where people who have been cast away from civilisation go to create a new home.

A number of well-known book lovers helped to judge the shortlist prize, including Peep Show’s Robert Webb and Bridgerton actress Adjoa Andoh.

It was very much the work we were concentrating on, rather than whether or not they were called Paul

Robert Webb

At the shortlist announcement event, Webb was asked if he had noticed whether there were three people named Paul on the shortlist, to which he joked: “There could have been more Pauls I think, so these Pauls should count themselves very lucky.”

He added: “It was very much the work we were concentrating on, rather than whether or not they were called Paul.”

The judges chose the final six novels from a longlist of 13 titles and all of the shortlisted authors received £2,500 and a bespoke bound edition of their book.

The 2023 winner will be announced on November 26 at an awards ceremony held at Old Billingsgate in London where they will receive £50,000.

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