10 September 2013 Update: Shortlist announced as follows and annotated next to listing below, links are to Amazon UK.
NoViolet Bulawayo: We Need New Names (Chatto & Windus)
Eleanor Catton: The Luminaries (Granta)
Jim Crace: Harvest (Picador)
Jhumpa Lahiri: The Lowland (Bloomsbury)
Ruth Ozeki: A Tale for the Time Being (Canongate)
Colm Tóibín: The Testament of Mary (Viking)
The Man Booker Prize aims to promote the finest in fiction by rewarding the very best book of the year. From the longlist of 13 novels a shortlist will be made on 10 September 2013 [above] with the winner announced on 15 October 2013. Chaired by Robert Macfarlane this year’s judges are: Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Natalie Haynes, Martha Kearney, Stuart Kelly. Represented on the 2013 longlist are authors from Britain, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Malaysia and Ireland. Links below go to each novel’s Amazon UK page:
Tash Aw: Five Star Billionaire. ‘Tash Aw charts the weave of their journeys in the new China, counterpointing their adventures with the old life they have left behind in Malaysia. The result is a brilliant examination of the migrations that are shaping this dazzling new city, and their effect on these individual lives’.
NoViolet Bulawayo: We Need New Names ‘To play the country-game, we have to choose a country. Everybody wants to be the USA and Britain and Canada and Australia and Switzerland and them. Nobody wants to be rags of countries like Congo, like Somalia, like Iraq, like Sudan, like Haiti and not even this one we live in – who wants to be a terrible place of hunger and things falling apart?’ Darling and her friends live in a shanty called Paradise, which of course is no such thing.’
Eleanor Catton: The Luminaries. Publication Date: 5 September 2013. ‘It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a whore has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk’.
Jim Crace: Harvest ‘Harvest, his latest novel, dramatises one of the great under-told narratives of English history . . . Crace brings his signature combination of atmosphere and exactitude to every aspect of this far‑off world . . . the prose is extraordinary: rich yet measured, estranged and familiar, both intimate and austere . . . Harvest can be read in mythical, even biblical terms, but the physical and emotional displacement of individuals and communities at its heart remains as politically resonant today as it was at the time.’ – Guardian
Eve Harris: The Marrying of Chani Kaufman. Publication Date: 19 September 2013. ’19 year-old Chani lives in the ultra-orthodox Jewish community of North West London. She has never had physical contact with a man, but is bound to marry a stranger. The rabbi’s wife teaches her what it means to be a Jewish wife, but Rivka has her own questions to answer. Soon buried secrets, fear and sexual desire bubble to the surface in a story of liberation and choice; not to mention what happens on the wedding night’.
Richard House: The Kills. Publication date 18 July 2013: ‘This is The Kills: Sutler, The Massive, The Kill, The Hit. The Kills is an epic novel of crime and conspiracy told in four books. It begins with a man on the run and ends with a burned body. Moving across continents, characters and genres, there will be no more ambitious or exciting novel in 2013. In a ground-breaking collaboration between author and publisher, Richard House has also created multimedia content that takes you beyond the boundaries of the book and into the characters’ lives outside its pages: www.thekills.co.uk‘
Jhumpa Lahiri: The Lowland. Publication date: 24 September 2013: ‘From the Pulitzer Prize-winning, best-selling author of The Namesake comes an extraordinary new novel, set in both India and America, that expands the scope and range of one of our most dazzling storytellers: a tale of two brothers bound by tragedy, a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past, a country torn by revolution, and a love that lasts long past death’.
Alison MacLeod: Unexploded. Publication date: 5 September 2013: ‘May, 1940. On Park Crescent, Geoffrey and Evelyn Beaumont and their eight-year-old son, Philip, anxiously await news of the expected enemy landing on the beaches of Brighton. It is a year of tension and change. Geoffrey becomes Superintendent of the enemy alien camp at the far reaches of town, while Philip is gripped by the rumour that Hitler will make Brighton’s Royal Pavilion his English HQ. As the rumours continue to fly and the days tick on, Evelyn struggles to fall in with the war effort and the constraints of her role in life, and her thoughts become tinged with a mounting, indefinable desperation’.
Colum McCann: TransAtlantic. ‘This novel is beautifully hypnotic in its movements, from the grand (between two continents, across three centuries) to the most subtle. Silkily threading together public events and private feelings, TransAtlantic says no to death with every line. Those who can’t see the point of historical novels will find their answer here: in all intelligent fiction, the past has not passed’. – Emma Donaghue.
Charlotte Mendelson: Almost English. ‘Home is a foreign country: they do things differently there. In a tiny flat in West London, sixteen-year-old Marina lives with her emotionally delicate mother, Laura, and three ancient Hungarian relatives. Imprisoned by her family’s crushing expectations and their fierce unEnglish pride, by their strange traditions and stranger foods, she knows she must escape. But the place she runs to makes her feel even more of an outsider’.
Ruth Ozeki: A Tale for the Time Being. ‘Within the pages of this book lies the diary of a girl called Nao. Riding the waves of a tsunami, it is making its way across the ocean. It will change the life of the person who finds it. It might just change yours, too’.
Donal Ryan: The Spinning Heart. ‘In the aftermath of Ireland’s financial collapse, dangerous tensions surface in an Irish town. As violence flares, the characters face a battle between public persona and inner desires. Through a chorus of unique voices, each struggling to tell their own kind of truth, a single authentic tale unfolds’.
Colm Tóibín: The Testament of Mary. ‘In a voice that is both tender and filled with rage, The Testament of Mary tells the story of a cataclysmic event which led to an overpowering grief. For Mary, her son has been lost to the world, and now, living in exile and in fear, she tries to piece together the memories of the events that led to her son’s brutal death. To her he was a vulnerable figure, surrounded by men who could not be trusted, living in a time of turmoil and change’.
Of the 13, two of the authors have appeared on the shortlist before: Jim Crace was shortlisted for the Booker in 1997 for Quarantine (Viking), while Colm Tóibín has been shortlisted twice: for The Blackwater Lightship in 1999 and in 2004 with The Master.
Seven of the 13 authors are women; three are debut authors. Jim Crace is the oldest author on the longlist at 67 and Eleanor Catton is the youngest aged 27.
Four independent publishers make the longlist. Sandstone Press, a small publisher based in Highland Scotland, joins Granta, Canongate and Bloomsbury. Sandstone made the longlist for the first time in 2011, with Jane Rogers’ The Testament of Jessie Lamb.
The judges will meet again in September to decide the shortlist of six books, which will be announced on Tuesday 10 September at a press conference at the Man Group’s head office. The winner of the 2013 prize will be announced at a winner’s ceremony on Tuesday 15 October from London’s Guildhall, an event broadcast by the BBC on BBC News 24 and the 1o o’clock News on BBC One.
The six shortlisted writers are each awarded £2,500 and presented with a specially commissioned, beautifully hand-bound edition of their book. The winner will receive a further £50,000.
Robert Macfarlane, who was previously a member of the judging panel in 2004, is joined on the 2013 Man Booker Prize for Fiction judging panel by: the renowned broadcaster Martha Kearney; critic, academic and prize-winning biographer, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst; broadcaster, classicist and critic, Natalie Haynes and Stuart Kelly, essayist and former literary editor of Scotland on Sunday.
The Man Booker Prize was first awarded in 1969 and 2013 marks its 45th year. Hilary Mantel made history in 2012 when she won the prize for the second time with Bring up the Bodies, as the first woman and the first British author to win the prize twice. She has since gone on to become the first Man Booker author to enter the official UK Top 50 number one spot with the mass-market edition of Bring Up the Bodies.
A full history of the prize, including an interactive timeline and weekly news round-ups, can be found on the Man Booker Prize website – www.themanbookerprize.com.