Tale of Abraham Lincoln’s grief for young son favourite for Man Booker Prize

A book focusing on the night Abraham Lincoln laid his 11-year-old son to rest in a Washington cemetery is the favourite to be handed this year’s Man Booker Prize.

The Duchess of Cornwall will present the prestigious fiction award to one of six shortlisted authors during a ceremony at the Guildhall in central London on Tuesday.

Lincoln In The Bardo by George Saunders, which details a grief-fuelled visit by the US statesman to his son’s crypt in 1862, is widely tipped by bookmakers to take home the £50,000 prize.

Saunders is one of three US authors to make it onto this year’s shortlist, alongside Paul Auster for 4321, set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and civil rights movement, and Emily Fridlund for History Of Wolves, which explores the effects of “neglectful” parenting.

British writer Fiona Mozley, a part-time bookshop worker, has also been shortlisted for the debut novel she began writing on her mobile phone on her way to work.

Seen through the eyes of a child, Elmet is the story of a moody, philosophical bare-knuckle fighter who brings up his children “in defiance of social norms”.

The novel, set in a Yorkshire copse, was described by judges as “timeless in its epic mixture of violence and love”.

Mozley wrote the first chapter as the landscape of her native Yorkshire whizzed past the window while travelling to London by train.

Scottish author Ali Smith has been shortlisted for the fourth time, this year for Autumn, a book “in part about Brexit”.

British-Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid completes the shortlist for Exit West, which is about the movement of large numbers of people across the globe in search of freedom and those “caught up literally and metaphorically in crossfire”.

Lincoln in the Bardo is favourite to win at 11-8 with bookmakers William Hill, followed by Autumn (4-1) and Elmet (9-2) while Coral is also backing Saunders to win with odds of 10-11.

The winner will be announced on Tuesday evening.


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