The winner of the Man Booker Prize is to be revealed by the Duchess of Cornwall in a ceremony later.
Six authors are in the running for the prestigious £50,000 fiction award.
They include bookies’ favourite Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders – about Abraham Lincoln’s grief after the death of his 11-year-old son.
Scottish novelist Ali Smith is shortlisted for Autumn, the first of a quartet, alongside debut authors Emily Fridlund and Fiona Mozley.
The list is completed by US author Paul Auster and Pakistan-born Mohsin Hamid.
Mozley, a PhD student at the University of York’s Centre for Medieval Studies, is one of three female writers on a shortlist that is evenly divided between the sexes.
She’s nominated for Elmet, which she started writing on her phone while commuting in London – and which she now finds herself selling to customers at the bookshop in York where she works part time.
It’s a family drama exploring the loss of rural community in northern England.
Hamid, who was shortlisted in 2007 in The Reluctant Fundamentalist, is once more in contention thanks to Exit West, while Smith is shortlisted for the fourth time for her book, which is “in part about Brexit”.
There are three US authors on the shortlist – Fridlund, Saunders and Auster.
Auster’s book 4321 is set against the background of the civil rights movement, while Fridlund’s History of Wolves looks at the effect of “neglectful parenting”.
If Lincoln in the Bardo does win for Saunders, who is best known for his short stories and novellas, he will be only the second American to win the prize.
The award has been open to US writers since 2014 and was awarded to its first American winner, Paul Beatty, last year.
2017 Man Booker Prize contenders
Paul Auster, 4 3 2 1
In a nutshell: A young man growing up in New Jersey in the 1950s and 60s leads four parallel lives.
Judges’ comment: “An ambitious, complex, epic narrative… that is essentially both human and humane.”
Emily Fridlund (above), History of Wolves
In a nutshell: A 14-year-old girl living on a commune in the US Midwest befriends some new arrivals.
Judges’ comment: “A novel of silver prose and disquieting power that asks very difficult questions.”
Mohsin Hamid, Exit West
In a nutshell: A boy and girl fall in love, move in together and consider leaving their unnamed country.
Judges’ comment: “A subtle, compact piece of writing about a relationship, its blossoming and digressions.”
Fiona Mozley, Elmet
In a nutshell: A boy remembers his life in a house his father built with his bare hands in an isolated wood.
Judges’ comment: “Timeless in its epic mixture of violence and love, it is also timely… with no punches pulled.”
George Saunders (above), Lincoln in the Bardo
In a nutshell: President Abraham Lincoln goes to a Georgetown cemetery to grieve following his young son’s death.
Judges’ comment: “Daring and accomplished, this is a novel with a rare capriciousness of mind and heart.”
Ali Smith, Autumn
In a nutshell: A dying 101-year-old man is watched over by his closest and only friend.
Judges’ comment: “An elegy for lost time, squandered beauty but also for the loss of connections.”
Baroness Lola Young, chair of the 2017 judging panel, said the six shortlisted novels “collectively push against the borders of convention”.
Her fellow judges include novelist Sarah Hall, artist Tom Phillips and the travel writer Colin Thubron.
The shortlist was whittled down from a longlist of 15 novels that was announced in July.
Sebastian Barry, Arundhati Roy and Zadie Smith are among the big-name writers whose works were on the longlist but did not make the final cut.
Man Booker Prize – Who’s won it before?
- 2016: Paul Beatty, The Sellout
- 2015: Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings
- 2014: Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
- 2013: Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries
- 2012: Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies
- 2011: Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending
- 2010: Howard Jacobson, The Finkler Question
- 2009: Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall
- 2008: Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger
- 2007: Anne Enright, The Gathering