Their names were announced by 2017 Chair of judges, Lola, Baroness Young, at a press conference at the offices of Man Group, the prize sponsor.
The judges remarked that the novels, each in its own way, challenge and subtly shift our preconceptions — about the nature of love, about the experience of time, about questions of identity and even death.
The shortlist, which features three women and three men, covers a wide range of subjects, from the struggle of a family trying to retain its self-sufficiency in rural England to a love story between two refugees seeking to flee an unnamed city in the throes of civil war.
In the fourth year that the prize has been open to writers of any nationality, the shortlist is made up of two British, one British-Pakistani and three American writers.
Two novels from independent publishers, Faber & Faber and Bloomsbury, are shortlisted, alongside two from Penguin Random House imprint Hamish Hamilton and two from Hachette imprints, Weidenfeld & Nicolson and JM Originals.
The 2017 shortlist of six novels is:
4321 by Paul Auster (US) (Faber & Faber)
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (US) (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (UK-Pakistan) (Hamish Hamilton)
Elmet by Fiona Mozley (UK) (JM Originals)
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (US) (Bloomsbury Publishing)
Autumn by Ali Smith (UK) (Hamish Hamilton)