Man Booker prize shortlist
SIX books have been shortlisted for this year's Man Booker Prize for fiction.
Here is a summary of the novels in the running for the £50,000 prize.
:: The Sense Of An Ending by Julian Barnes
The novel is the story of "one man coming to terms with the mutable past".
Booker judges said that the book was not only surprising but "actively shocking" at times.
Judge Gaby Wood, head of books at the Daily Telegraph, said: "In purely technical terms, it is one of the most masterful things I have ever read and I certainly think the most masterful thing that Barnes has ever written."
Barnes, 65, has written 10 previous novels. He has previously been shortlisted for the Booker with Flaubert's Parrot (1984), England, England (1998), and most recently with Arthur & George (2005).
:: The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
The Sisters Brothers is thought to be the first Western to make its way on to the shortlist.
Set in 1851, it is the story of brothers Eli and Charlie and their violent and unsettling experiences in Gold Rush America.
Judge Chris Mullin, the author and politician, said the book was "very gripping from beginning to end" with "rather black" humour and a "chilling story" reminiscent of Coen brothers films.
Author deWitt, 36, is one of two Canadian authors on the shortlist. His first novel, Ablutions, was published in 2009 and deWitt also wrote the screenplay for the film Terri.
:: Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch
Jaffy Brown is a young boy who is knocked unconscious by a Bengal tiger in London's East End.
He is saved by the tiger's owner, begins working at the Menagerie and is soon given the opportunity to hunt down and bring back a dragon.
Birch, 60, lives in Lancashire and is the author of nine previous novels, including Scapegallows and Turn Again Home, which was longlisted for the Booker in 2003.
Judges praised the "extraordinary" way that the author was able to conjure up "vivid colours in the book".
Even though it was set in a Dickensian world, it made the "strange feel very familiar", they said.
:: Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan
The novel, set in 1940, centres on the mystery of a black German star on the cabaret scene who is arrested in a cafe and never heard from again.
Author Susan Hill, one of the judges, said the book was one of the "most moving novels" she had ever read.
The book is a "wonderful, vibrant, tense novel about war and its aftermath, secrets and betrayal", she said, and the author had managed to write about music "so that we actually hear it".
Edugyan, 33, is the second Canadian on the shortlist. She wrote her debut novel when she was 25.
:: Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman
Pigeon English is inspired by the real-life case of 10-year-old Damilola Taylor, who was fatally stabbed on a Peckham estate in 2000.
It is the story of an 11-year-old from Ghana who arrives in Britain with his mother and older sister to live in an inner-city council estate.
When a boy is knifed to death on the high street, the boy decides to start a murder investigation of his own.
Writer Matthew d'Ancona, one of the judges, said the "magnificent book" was a "linguistic triumph" that "totally manages to occupy the inner life of someone else".
He said: "It's an exploration of the immigrant condition, what it is to find yourself, particularly as a child, in a state of wonderment and then subsequently disillusionment in a society that's both totally welcoming and hostile."
In some ways, he said, referring to the recent riots, the novel read "as a form of grim prophecy".
Pigeon English is Kelman's debut novel. The 35-year-old, who grew up on a Luton council estate, has worked as a warehouse operative and a care worker, and decided to pursue writing seriously in 2005.
:: Snowdrops by AD Miller
The novel is described as a "riveting psychological drama" set in a Moscow winter.
Former MI5 chief Dame Stella Rimington, chairman of the judges, said it was an "enthralling story" that "caught vividly and succinctly, for the first time in a novel that we were aware of, the atmosphere in Moscow after the collapse of the Soviet Union".
London-born Miller, The Economist's former Moscow correspondent, is the second debut novelist to make the shortlist. Rights to the book have been sold in 22 countries and it is being translated into 19 languages.