Past winner Howard Jacobson is joint-favourite to win this year’s Man Booker Prize as the shortlist was announced today, featuring US authors for the first time.

Former Man Booker Prize winner Howard Jacobson

Howard Jacobson

Two American writers – Joshua Ferris and Karen Joy Fowler – have made the list of six, after a rule change opened the award up this year to writers of any nationality writing in English.

Omissions from the shortlist include popular writers David Nicholls and David Mitchell, both of whom had been included on the longlist which was unveiled in July.

Jacobson, who won the Booker in 2010 for The Finkler Question, and the twice-shortlisted Ali Smith have been installed as the 3/1 joint favourites by bookmaker William Hill.

Jacobson has been included on the 2014 shortlist for his novel J, while Smith is in the running for her book How To Be Both.

Also included in the shortlist are Ferris’s To Rise Again At a Decent Hour, Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Australian writer Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road To The Deep North and The Lives Of Others by the Calcutta-born and London-based author Neel Mukherjee.

Until this year, the 46 year old prize was restricted to authors from the Commonwealth and the Republic of Ireland, but the UK’s best-known fiction award – worth £50,000 to the winner – is now open to writers of any nationality writing in English.

The announcement last year that the Booker was dropping its geographical borders came in the wake of the launch of the Folio Prize – seen by many as a rival award – which attracted an international field.

Chair of the 2014 judging panel AC Grayling said: “We are delighted to announce our international shortlist. As the Man Booker Prize expands its borders, these six exceptional books take the reader on journeys around the world, between the UK, New York, Thailand, Italy, Calcutta and times past, present and future.”