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Book News: Booker Prize Shortlist Includes 2 Americans

Joshua Ferris' To Rise Again at a Decent Hour is on the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize. Ferris and fellow American writer Karen Joy Fowler were named alongside Australian Richard Flanagan and Britons Howard Jacobson, Neel Mukherjee and Ali Smith. Beowulf Sheehan/Courtesy of Little, Brown and Co. hide caption

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Beowulf Sheehan/Courtesy of Little, Brown and Co.

Joshua Ferris' To Rise Again at a Decent Hour is on the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize. Ferris and fellow American writer Karen Joy Fowler were named alongside Australian Richard Flanagan and Britons Howard Jacobson, Neel Mukherjee and Ali Smith.

Beowulf Sheehan/Courtesy of Little, Brown and Co.

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Two Americans are on the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize, which this year for the first time was open to writers of any nationality whose books were written in English and published in the U.K. Americans Joshua Ferris (To Rise Again at a Decent Hour) and Karen Joy Fowler (We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves) made it to the shortlist Tuesday alongside the Australian Richard Flanagan (The Narrow Road to the Deep North) and British writers Howard Jacobson (J), Neel Mukherjee (The Lives of Others) and Ali Smith (How to Be Both). Jacobson won the prize in 2010, and Smith is a perpetual contender. In his announcement, chair of the judges A.C. Grayling called the list "a strong, thought-provoking shortlist which we believe demonstrates the wonderful depth and range of contemporary fiction in English." The winner of the prize, which until last year was restricted to citizens of the U.K., the British Commonwealth, Zimbabwe and Ireland, will receive about $80,000. The winner of the Booker prize will be announced Oct. 14.

The late poet Maya Angelou collaborated on a hip-hop album coming out this fall. Angelou contributed vocals to Caged Bird Songs, a project by Shawn Rivera and RoccStarr, who were inspired by her memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. "Grandma loved it from the beginning," Angelou's grandson, Colin A. Johnson, told Billboard. "These guys were inspired by grandma's work, which many people are, and felt like giving it a different medium of delivery to make it more obtainable to a larger group of people. She saw (hip-hop) as this generation's way of speaking and conveying a message."

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The Dutch translator Hans Bolland — who translated Dostoyevsky, Pushkin and others into Dutch — declined Russia's prestigious Pushkin medal because of his objections to President Vladimir Putin, whom he called "a big threat to freedom and peace on our planet."

A 76-year-old woman found herself compulsively composing poetry after being treated for epilepsy, according to a case study in the journal Neurocase. She began taking the drug lamotrigine, which helped with the memory problems she was having, but, according to the study, "Several months after starting lamotrigine, the patient suddenly began to write original verse." The paper continued: "Whereas poetry had never previously been among her pastimes, she now produced copious short poems (around 10–15 each day)."

T.S. Eliot's summer house is for sale.