Indies have dominated the longlist for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, announced today (26th July), with nine of the 13 titles from independent publishers. Former winner, Alan Hollinghurst, has also been nominated for his much-praised The Stranger’s Child (Picador).
Sebastian Barry's On Canaan's Side (Faber), Carol Birch's Jamrach's Menagerie (Canongate Books) , Patrick deWitt's The Sisters Brothers (Granta) , Esi Edugyan's Half Blood Blues (Serpent's Tail/ Profile) plus Scottish-based publisher Sandstone Press' The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers are all on the list.
Four debuts have made the 13: Stephen Kelman’s Pigeon English (Bloomsbury), A D Miller’s Snowdrops (Atlantic), Yvette Edwards’ A Cupboard Full of Coats (Oneworld) and Patrick McGuinness’ The Last Hundred Days (Seren).
Random House has scored two, with Julian Barnes' The Sense of an Ending (Jonathan Cape) and
D J Taylor's Derby Day (Chatto), while Hachette has Alison Pick's Far to Go (Headline Review)
. However, titles published by Penguin and HarperCollins failed to make the longlist.
This year's longlist has a marked swing towards independent publishers. In 2009, 11 out of the 12 longlist were from the big four publishers. Last year it was nine of the 12. This year it is only four from any of the UK's four biggest publishing houses. The Independent Alliance has five of its publishers on the longlist, with Atlantic, Canongate, Faber, Granta and Serpent's Tail/Profile all making the cut.
Will Atkinson, Faber sales and marketing director, said: "Publishing fiction of the highest quality is in the life's blood of the [Independent] Alliance. We are all delighted that our publishing efforts have been so strongly confirmed by this tranche of books on the Booker longlist."
Chair of judges, Dame Stella Rimington, said: "We are delighted by the quality and breadth of our longlist, which emerged from an impassioned discussion. The list ranges from the Wild West to multi-ethnic London via post-Cold War Moscow and Bucharest, and includes four first novels."
Waterstone's spokesman Jon Howells said: "I think the list is full of surprises because you have a couple of big names such as Alan Hollinghurst but you are always hoping Booker will recognise smaller houses, which they have here."
He added: "It is great to see Pigeon English in there, this is one of the Waterstone’s 11 and we were really pleased that a Waterstone’s 11 won the Orange Prize (Téa Obreht's The Tiger’s Wife) so if we can ‘do the double’ I would be over the moon.”
Darren Hardy, books manager at Amazon.co.uk, said: “The longlist for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction this year has a good cross section of publishing with great representation from both established and debut authors. Independent publishers are well-represented alongside the bigger players which is great to see.”
Hollinghurst won the prize in 2004 for The Line of Beauty, while Barry and Barnes have both been shortlisted before, and Birch was longlisted in 2003.
The shortlist of six authors will be announced on 6th September, with the winner announced on 18th October. The winner will receive £50,000 and each of the six shortlisted authors, including the winner, will receive £2,500 and a designer bound edition of their book.
The judges for the 2011 prize also comprise writer and journalist, Matthew d'Ancona; author Susan Hill; author and politician Chris Mullin; and head of books at the Daily Telegraph, Gaby Wood.