American author George Saunders wins Man Booker Prize

American author George Saunders wins Man Booker Prize”

USA author George Saunders on Tuesday became only the second American writer to win Britain's renowned Man Booker Prize, which was awarded for his first full-length novel "Lincoln in the Bardo".

Lincoln In The Bardo tells the story of Abraham Lincoln's grief after the death of his young son and is set in a graveyard over a single night.

Saunders beat five other finalists: New Yorker Paul Auster's quadruple coming-of-age story "4321"; U.S. writer Emily Fridlund's story of a Midwest teenager, "History of Wolves"; Scottish author Ali Smith's Brexit-themed "Autumn"; British-Pakistani novelist Mohsin Hamid's migration story "Exit West"; and British writer Fiona Mozley's debut novel "Elmet" about a fiercely independent family under threat.

The prize, subject to intense speculation, usually brings the victor a huge boost in sales and profile.

The judging panel deliberated for five hours on Tuesday - including spells of "fierce debate" - before unanimously naming Saunders as the victor.

In his acceptance speech, Saunders, 58, noted that "we live in a unusual time", adding he saw the key question of the era being whether society responded to events with "exclusion and negative projection and violence", or "with love/".

The 58-year-old writer, who had been favourite to win, was presented with the prestigious literary award and STG50,000 ($A84,000) prize during a ceremony at the Guildhall in central London, attended by the Duchess of Cornwall. So the question at the heart of the matter is pretty simple: do we respond to fear with exclusion and negative projection and violence?

Lincoln In The Bardo was hailed as "utterly original" and praised by judges for its "witty, intelligent, and deeply moving narrative". "And with faith in the idea that what seems other is actually not other at all, but just us on a different day", Saunders said upon receiving the prize. "In the USA now we're hearing a lot about the need to protect culture". Well, this tonight is culture - it's worldwide culture, it's compassionate culture, it's activist culture.

"This tale of the haunting and haunted souls in the afterlife of Abraham Lincoln's young son paradoxically creates a vivid and lively evocation of the characters that populate this other world".

Last year Paul Beatty became the first American to win for his novel, "The Sellout".

"It's a room full of believers through the word, in ambiguity and beauty and trying to see the other person's point of view, even when it's hard".

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