Thirteen novels have been named on longlist for The Man Booker Prize in its first incarnation as a global literary award. Previously restricted to writers of the Commonwealth and Ireland, the decision to consider any original piece of fiction written in English has been met with a fair amount of controversy. Having said that, and without going into too much detail, this years list has not seen an American takeover as many anticipated – at least not in the places of British and Irish authors. Of the thirteen nominees, four of the authors are American, with six from Britain. Last year the longlist included five Commonwealth authors from outside Britain, with New Zealand’s Eleanor Catton going on to win. This year there is only one.
Irrespective of any grumblings or concerns about the newly global nature of the prize, this years longlist includes a wonderful array of titles and authors. Among them is a particular intriguing and unique tale. ‘The Wake’ by Paul Kingsnorth was offered to many publishing houses and rejected, most likely because of its unorthodox approach. It took a crowdfunding campaign and a pledge from four hundred people to buy the book upon publication for it to actually reach that stage. The story of publication is almost as incredible as the novel itself, set in post-Battle of Hastings Britain and written in a shadow tongue – a version of old English constructed by Kingsnorth himself to be understood by a modern audience. Incredible all round.
Other nominees include the British powerhouse trio of David Mitchell, Howard Jacobson and Ali Smith, with Jacobson the only previous winner on this years list – he won the prize in 2010 for ‘The Finkler Question’.
The Longlist in full:
Joshua Ferris – To Rise Again at a Decent Hour (US)
Karen Joy Fowler – We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (US)
Siri Hustvedt – The Blazing World (US)
Richard Powers – Orfeo (US)
Richard Flanagan – The Narrow Road to the Deep North (AUS)
Howard Jacobson – J (GBR)
Paul Kingsnorth – The Wake (GBR)
David Mitchell – The Bone Clocks (GBR)
David Nicholls – Us (GBR)
Ali Smith – How to be Both (GBR)
Neel Mukherjee – The Lives of Others (GBR)
Joseph O’Neill – The Dog (Ire)
Niall Williams – History of the Rain (Ire)