The longlisted favourite for the 2018 Man Booker Prize for fiction, Ireland’s Sally Rooney, failed to make last Thursday’s shortlist of six, which features works by four women and two men.

The shortlist for the US$65,000 (RM268,456) prize comprises one Irish, one Canadian, two British and two American authors.

Philosopher and writer Kwame Anthony Appiah, who chaired the judges, said all six finalists were “miracles of stylistic invention.”

“In each of them the language takes centre stage,” said Appiah.

“Each one explores the anatomy of pain – among the incarcerated and on a slave plantation, in a society fractured by sectarian violence, and even in the natural world,” he said.

“But there are also, in each of them, moments of hope.”

The first graphic novel to be longlisted, the dystopian Sabrina by US author Nick Drnaso, also failed to make the final six.

But the inclusion of Scottish poet and writer Robin Robertson’s The Long Take, which combines verse with photographs, means there is still a place for innovative graphic form in the shortlist.

One of the new favourites is another Irish author, Anna Burns, whose Milkman portrays an isolated young woman navigating life in the shadow of paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland.

The Irish Times commented that Rooney’s exclusion was “the biggest surprise” in the shortlist.

US writer George Saunders won last year’s prize for his novel Lincoln In The Bardo, which portrays 19th-century US president Abraham Lincoln grieving his dead son.

The winner of the 2018 prize be announced on Oct 16.

The full list of authors and books follows:

Anna Burns (Britain) – Milkman
Esi Edugyan (Canada) – Washington Black
Daisy Johnson (Britain) – Everything Under
Rachel Kushner (US) – The Mars Room
Richard Powers (US) – The Overstory
Robin Robertson (Britain) – The Long Take – dpa