Entertainment & Arts

Man Booker judges reveal 'most diverse' longlist

Jim Crace and Colm Toibin
Image caption Jim Crace (left) and Colm Toibin (right) are both previously shortlisted

Previous nominees Jim Crace and Colm Toibin have made the 13-strong long list for this year's Man Booker prize.

Robert Macfarlane, chair of the judges, described it as "surely the most diverse long list in Man Booker history".

The list includes authors from Britain, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Malaysia and Ireland.

The shortlist of six will be unveiled on 10 September, and the £50,000 prize winner on 15 October.

The long list of authors and titles is as follows:

  • Tash Aw (Five Star Billionaire)
  • NoViolet Bulawayo (We Need New Names)
  • Eleanor Catton (The Luminaries)
  • Jim Crace (Harvest)
  • Eve Harris (The Marrying of Chani Kaufman)
  • Richard House (The Kills)
  • Jhumpa Lahiri (The Lowland)
  • Alison MacLeod (Unexploded)
  • Colum McCann (Transatlantic)
  • Charlotte Mendelson (Almost English)
  • Ruth Ozeki (A Tale for the Time Being)
  • Donal Ryan (The Spinning Heart)
  • Colm Toibin (The Testament of Mary)

Crace was previously shortlisted in 1997 for Quarantine, while Toibin has appeared twice before - for The Blackwater Lightship in 1999 and in 2004 with The Master.

At 67, Crace is the oldest author on the longlist, and 27-year-old Catton the youngest. Her book The Luminaries, out in September, is one of the longest on the list with 832 pages.

Bookmaker William Hill has made New Zealand-based Catton 6/1 favourite to win the prize, followed by Crace and Toibin at 7/1.

Richard House's The Kills has the longest odds, having been made the 20/1 outsider.

Crace's inclusion follows his announcement in February that Harvest was likely to be his last novel.

"Retiring from writing is not to retire from life," he told The Independent: "[It is] to avoid the inevitable bitterness which a writing career is bound to deliver as its end product, in almost every case."

Toibin's The Testament of Mary presents the mother of Jesus grieving angrily years on from her son's crucifixion.

Seven of the 13 longlisted authors are women; and three - Bulawayo, Harris and Ryan - are debut novelists.

In 2012 and 2011 four debut novelists featured on the longlists. The last first-time writer to scoop the top prize was Aravind Adiga in 2008 with The White Tiger.

"This is surely the most diverse longlist in Man Booker history: wonderfully various in terms of geography, form, length and subject," said judges' chairman Macfarlane.

"These 13 outstanding novels range from the traditional to the experimental, from the first century AD to the present day, from 100 pages to 1,000 and from Shanghai to Hendon."

The book that runs to almost 1,000 pages is Richard House's political thriller The Kills, described as "four interconnected books that are set across the globe, from Iraq to Naples and Reims to New York".

As well as the traditional hardcover format, there is also a multimedia ebook with videos and audio content.

Image caption Debut novelists (l-r) Eve Harris, NoViolet Bulawayo and Donal Ryan

Macfarlane told the BBC the judging process had been "peaceable but rigorous".

The longlist selection meeting on Monday lasted nearly six hours. "That speaks not of dissent but care taken," he said.

"It's a very contemporary list," Macfarlane added. "Where there are historical novels they tend to bear pretty hard on the present - we have rising Asia, we have falling Ireland, we have fiscal crashes, we have tsunamis, we have Orthodox communities in contemporary London. The novel really squares up to the present."

Macfarlane is joined on the 2013 judging panel by broadcaster Martha Kearney; biographer and critic Robert Douglas-Fairhurst; author, broadcaster and classicist Natalie Haynes, and writer and critic Stuart Kelly.

The longlist of 13 was selected from 151 titles and includes books from three independent publishers: Canongate, Granta and Sandstone Press.

"This is a longlist which showcases the craft of writing, from Donal Ryan's overlapping voices to the quirky perspective of Charlotte Mendelson's teenage narrator, Colm Toibin's guileful remodelling of a familiar story to Jhumpa Lahiri's vibrant cultural frontiers." said Jonathan Ruppin, web editor of Foyles bookshops.

"Each of the titles will also leave readers in a profoundly different place from where they started: this is fiction that questions why we live our lives the way we do and what it means to be a human being, whether in Zimbabwe today or the goldfields of New Zealand a century and a half ago.

"There are many writers here whose sales have previously not matched their talents, so readers have a wonderful opportunity to discover new favourites, authors they'll be reading for years to come."

Ruppin tipped Crace's Harvest to win, describing it as "the crowning achievement of a brilliant career".

But he added that Catton's The Luminaries was "a work of exquisite detail and extraordinary scope whose claims are impossible to overlook".

This year marks the 45th year of the £50,000 book prize, launched in 1969.

The winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize for Fiction will be announced on 15 October at an awards ceremony at London's Guildhall.

Hilary Mantel won the 2012 Booker Prize for Bring Up the Bodies, making her the first woman and 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.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites