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Jhumpa Lahiri, Colm Toibin make Booker Prize shortlist

Pulitzer Prize-winner Jhumpa Lahiri and Irish novelist Colm Toibin are among six finalists for the prestigious Booker Prize for fiction — a diverse shortlist that includes a strong American contingent, a first-time novelist, and a Buddhist priest.

Lahiri’s Indian-American family saga The Lowland and Toibin’s Bible-inspired The Testament of Mary are on the shortlist announced Tuesday for the 50,000-pound ($78,000) prize.

The other finalists are shantytown-set story We Need New Names by Zimbabwe’s NoViolet Bulawayo; gold rush tale The Luminaries by New Zealand-based Eleanor Catton; rural requiem Harvest by Britain’s Jim Crace; and Pacific-crossing story A Tale for the Time Being by Canada’s Ruth Ozeki.

The head of the judging panel, writer Robert Macfarlane, said the six novels were “world-spanning in their concerns, and ambitious in their techniques.”

“It is a shortlist that shows the English language novel to be a form of world literature. It crosses continents, joins countries and spans centuries,” he said.
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Meryl Streep to narrate Colm Toibin's 'The Testament of Mary' -- EXCLUSIVE

Meryl Streep will lend her very famous voice to the audiobook version of Colm Toibin’s Booker Prize short-listed novel The Testament of Mary, EW has learned exclusively. The audiobook will be available from Simon & Schuster on CD and for download on Sept. 10. EW’s Jeff Giles wrote of the novel, “The Testament of Mary takes an icon buried under centuries’ worth of other people’s opinions and transforms her into an unapologetically real woman who, at the end of her life, is recalling the annihilating pain of watching her son die.” The novel has also been adapted into a Broadway play starring Fiona Shaw.

It sounds like a meaty role for a 17-time Oscar nominee. “What Meryl Streep manages first is a sort of calm force; there is a naturalness in the voice, and in the phrasing. And then slowly something sorrowful emerges, it is like an undertone. It comes from the stops and the half-sighs and that can move into moments of insistent pain and out of that again into memory,” says Toibin in a press release. “She has a way of lingering on words and phrases which is always perfectly natural, but it gradually takes on a real power. I think anyone who hears it will be astonished by it.”

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