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Autumn reading: Discover this year’s Booker Prize shortlist

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As the nights start drawing in, it’s the perfect time to refresh your bookshelf with some of the biggest publications of the year. The 2023 Booker Prize shortlist has been unveiled and includes six fantastic novels.

The Booker Prize launched in 1969 and many of the books that have won the award have gone on to become popular and receive further acclaim.

The 2023 winner will be announced on 26 November, and here are the six titles that are in the running.

The Bee Sting, Paul Murray

The Bee Sting is a thought-provoking book about family and fortune. It looks at the struggle to be a good person when your world is falling apart.

The Barnes family are facing financial difficulties – a once-lucrative business is going under. Each family member is dealing with the challenge differently, from father Dickie spending his days in the wood to teenage daughter Cass, who starts binge-drinking as she takes her exams.

Paul Murray tells the story of a normal family and removes their masks to cover topics like obsessions and vulnerabilities while adding a dose of dry wit.

Western Lane, Chetna Maroo

This coming-of-age novel follows 11-year-old Gopi after her mother passes away.

Gopi has been playing squash since she was small and, as she’s dealing with immense grief, her father enlists her in a brutal training regimen. The game becomes her whole world. She grows apart from her sisters and her life becomes about serves, volleys, and drives.

Chetna Maroo uses squash as a way for Gopi and her father to communicate, and delve into the nature of grief. On the court, Gopi meets Ged, a 13-year-old, through their connection, Maroo also explores cultural differences and race in the 1980s.

Prophet Song, Paul Lynch

The dystopian novel Prophet Song follows a mother whose life has been upended by the newly formed Irish secret police, the GNSB, and asks: how far will she go to keep her family together?

In the grip of a government that’s turning to tyranny, Ireland is falling apart. Eilish Stack’s husband and eldest son vanish as society collapses. When Eilish loses her job, she struggles to keep her children and ageing father safe as the country descends into civil war.

If you enjoy books with Orwellian themes, Prophet Song could be perfect for you.

This Other Eden, Paul Harding

This Other Eden is inspired by historical events of the once racially integrated Malaga Island off the coast of Maine, US.

In 1792, former slave Benjamin Honey arrives at Apple Island with his Irish wife to make a life together. More than a century later, the couple’s descendants happily remain along with other diverse neighbours, until officials arrive determined to “cleanse” the island.

The authorities choose just one light-skinned boy to save. The rest of the inhabitants must succumb to the new institutions or cast themselves into the waters in a new Noah’s Ark.

This Other Eden gives you a glimpse into history through a beautifully emotional story.

If I Survive You, Jonathan Escoffery

Set in 1979, Topper and Sanya flee to Miami as political violence consumes their home of Kingston. But, far from the warm welcome they hope to receive, they find they are treated with suspicion and often excluded from society.

If I Survive You centres on the couple’s two children, Trelawny and Delano, as they come of age and try to survive. Spanning decades, the novel covers key events from Hurricane Andrew, which destroyed thousands of homes in 1992, and the 2008 financial crisis.

Jonathan Escoffery perfectly blends storytelling, commentary on challenging social topics, and humour in this brilliant debut novel.

Study for Obedience, Sarah Bernstein

A young woman moves to the remote northern country to be a housekeeper for her brother after his wife left him.

A series of events and local superstitions lead to growing hostility lying just beyond the garden gate. As she feels the tension growing and pressing at the edges of her brother’s property, the woman fears what the town will be capable of as the locals gather. And then her brother begins to fall ill too.

Study for Obedience is an unsettling novel that questions power, displacement, and inheritance.