2018 Man Booker Prize – Daisy Johnson is the Youngest Author Shortlisted

The 27-year-old British author, Daisy Johnson has become one of the youngest writers to be shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2018. The shortlisted novel ‘Everything Under’ is about a troubled mother-daughter relationship that reinterprets Greek mythology in present-day Britain. It has been described by the judges as ‘reflecting the dark times we live in.’  Judge and crime writer Val McDermid described the book as a “modern variation on Sophocles’ Oedipus”, in which “the natural world is evoked with sinister sensitivity”. She further adds, “The single word that sums up this beautifully written debut novel is “fluidity”. It’s set in a world of waterways; nobody’s character remains fixed from start to finish; gender and memory are as fluid as the waters themselves.”

The shortlist features four women and two men and covers a wide range of topics, starting from an 11-year-old slave escaping a Barbados sugar plantation to a war veteran living with post-traumatic stress disorder. “All of our six finalists are miracles of stylistic invention. In each of them, the language takes centre stage. And yet, in every other respect, they are remarkably diverse, exploring a multitude of subjects ranging across space and time,” said philosopher and novelist Kwame Anthony Appiah, Chair of the panel of judges for the 2018 Man Booker Prize.

Johnson had previously won a series of prizes for her short story collection Fen and she is not the first 27 years old to make the final Booker line up. In 2013, New Zealand writer Eleanor Catton was the youngest ever shortlisted at the age of 27, and won the next year at 28 for her novel ‘The Luminaries’.

While Johnson did not win the prize, Everything Under has experienced the most significant uplift in sales since the shortlist was announced. The winner of the Man Booker prize 2018 was Anna Burns for her novel Milkman. Anna Burns is a Northern Irish writer and the first Northern Irish to win the Man Booker Prize. The story follows an 18-year-old girl who is harassed by a married man known as the Milkman.  The story was thought to be incredibly original by the chair of judges, hence it won the prize.

“None of us has ever read anything like this before,” said Kwame Anthony Appiah. “Anna Burns’s utterly distinctive voice challenges conventional thinking and form in surprising and immersive prose. It is a story of brutality, sexual encroachment and resistance threaded with mordant humour.”

Johnson, who now lives in Oxford, where she did her master’s in creative writing, said that she wanted to “write about women who are mothers and daughters and who find it difficult to sit within those roles”.  

Author(s): Daisy Johnson
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Release: July 2018
Genre: Fiction/Women
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