The Man Booker Prize goes global in 2014′s longlist.
Four Americans, an Australian, six Brits, an Irishman, and an Irish/American have come together to make this year’s Man Booker “Dozen” (of 13 books) - the first year the prize has been open to writers of any nationality.
Also notable this year is the presence of four independent publishers – including crowd-funded publisher Unbound with British author Paul Kingsnorth.
David Mitchell‘s much anticipated upcoming novel The Bone Clocks may well end up bookies favourite off the back of the publicity for his Twitter short story earlier this month, though fellow Brits Howard Jacobson - a previous winner in 2010 – and Ali Smith - shortlisted in 2001 – will surely also be contenders for the literary prize-punter’s pound. Neel Mukherjee and David Nicholls should also by no means be written off – particularly Nicholls. Waterstones Fiction buyer Chris White said “Nicholls is a surprise but probably this has more to do with industry prejudice as to who qualifies as a ‘literary’ author than anything else.” He added that Nicholls’ Us - published later this year - is a deeply affecting book and if the judges’ priority was to find ‘good’ books then this undoubtedly qualifies.”
Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North, described by White as “an incredible piece of writing”, could see another Antipodean victory, following in the footsteps of (Canadian born) New-Zealander Eleanor Catton last year.
Ireland’s Niall Williams is looking for his first major prize win – after being nominated for the IMPAC in 1999, whereas Joseph O’Neill is hoping that this is his year after he failed to make it through to the shortlist in 2008.
The American contingent will be tough to beat though – Joshua Ferris, Karen Joy Fowler, Richard Powers and particularly Siri Hustvedt.
Chair of judges A. C. Grayling said “The judges were impressed by the high quality of writing and the range of issues tackled – from 1066 to the future, from a PoW camp in Thailand, to a dentist’s chair in Manhattan; from the funny to the deeply serious, sometimes in the same book.”
Chris White summed up his reaction to the longlist by saying “The most obvious omissions are clearly Ian McEwan, Donna Tartt, and Sarah Waters. I loved all three books and I’m surprised that none of them made it but you can’t deny the quality of the writing on the final list.”
The shortlist of six books – will be announced on Tuesday 9th September and the overall winner on Tuesday 14th October at London’s Guildhall. Shortlisted authors receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book, whilst the winner takes home an additional £50,000.
Given that the Man Booker is now an international prize, this money will presumably be exchanged into the currency of the winner’s choice, at 0% commission.
The longlist in full
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, Joshua Ferris (Viking)
The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan (Chatto & Windus)
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler (Serpent’s Tail)
The Blazing World, Siri Hustvedt (Sceptre)
J, Howard Jacobson (Jonathan Cape)
The Wake, Paul Kingsnorth (Unbound)
The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell (Sceptre)
The Lives of Others, Neel Mukherjee (Chatto & Windus)
Us, David Nicholls (Hodder & Stoughton)
The Dog, Joseph O’Neill (Fourth Estate)
Orfeo, Richard Powers (Atlantic Books)
How to be Both, Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)
History of the Rain, Niall Williams (Bloomsbury)