Coetzee, Kennedy, Levy on Man Booker longlist

Coetzee, Kennedy, Levy on Man Booker longlist

J M Coetzee, A L Kennedy and Deborah Levy are among the 13 writers in this year's "Man Booker Dozen" competing for the £50,000 Man Booker Prize.

Also on the longlist are Paul Beatty, Graeme Macrae Burnet, Ian McGuire, David Means, Wyl Menmuir, Ottessa Moshfegh, Virginia Reeves, Elizabeth Strout, David Szalay and Madeleine Thien.

But there is no place for either Ian McEwan or Jonathan Safran Foer.

The split between UK and US authors this year - the third since eligibility for the prize was opened to include authors worldwide writing in English - is roughly equal, with five Americans and six Brits, if you include Szalay who also flies the flag for Canada where he was born. US authors are Beatty, Means, Moshfegh, Reeves and Strout. For the Commonwealth, Canadian Madeleine Thien and South African-Australian J M Coetzee round off the 13-strong “dozen”. 

The "dozen" includes four debut novels: Hystopia by David Means (Faber & Faber), a dystopian retelling of the Vietnam war; The Many by Wyl Menmuir (Salt), set in Cornwall; Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh (Jonathan Cape), already winner of the 2016 PEN/Hemingway Award; and Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves (Scribner UK), set in 1920s Alabama. Kennedy is longlisted for her eighth book, Serious Sweet - a story that takes place in a single day, about two “damaged” Londoners.

Meanwhile Coetzee, 76, who has already won the prize twice - first in 1983 for Life & Times of Michael K (Vintage) and again with Disgrace (Vintage) in 1999 - is longlisted for The Schooldays of Jesus (Harvill Secker, to be published in September). The new book is a sequel to his 2013 novel The Childhood of Jesus and follows characters Simón and Inés as they resettle in Estrella after being forced to flee the city of Novilla and take in David, "the small boy who is always asking questions”. 

Indie publishers also stack up a good presence. The list counts five independent publishers, including Oneworld, publisher of last year’s winner, A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James. This year the publisher is in the running for US-author Beatty’s The Sellout, a “biting satire” set in LA, that in the US was named one of the best books of 2015 by the New York Times Book Review and Wall Street Journal. Oneworld is joined by other independent publishers Contraband, for Burnet's His Bloody Project, Faber & Faber, for Means' Hystopia, Salt, for Menmuir's The Many, and Granta, for Thien's Do Not Say We Have Nothing.

Penguin Random House, the UK’s largest publisher, meanwhile accounts for six titles on the list across its various imprints Harvill Secker (The Schooldays of Jesus), Jonathan Cape (Serious Sweet), Hamish Hamilton (Hot Milk by Deborah Levy), Viking (My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout), while Simon & Schuster’s Scribner UK imprint publishes two of the longlisted titles, McGuire's The North Water, about a doomed whaling voyage in the 19th century, and Reeves' Work Like Any Other.

Chair of the 2016 judges Amanda Foreman commented: "This is a very exciting year. The range of books is broad and the quality extremely high. Each novel provoked intense discussion and, at times, passionate debate, challenging our expectations of what a novel is and can be.

"From the historical to the contemporary, the satirical to the polemical, the novels in this list come from both established writers and new voices. The writing is uniformly fresh, energetic and important. It is a longlist to be relished."

The shortlist will be announced on 13th September, after which the shortlisted authors can expect to receive a £2,500 cheque and a specially bound edition of their books.

The winner will ultimately be named on 25th October, at a black-tie dinner at London’s Guildhall, as broadcast by the BBC.

Alice O’Keeffe, books editor for The Bookseller, said: "It's an interesting longlist with more unknown names than literary giants, veteran double-winner J M Coetzee excepted. 

"I'm delighted to see a couple of literary thrillers on the longlist: Graeme Macrae Burnet's His Bloody Project about murders in a remote crofting community in 1869 and Ian McGuire's The North Water set aboard a 19th whaling ship.

"I'm also thrilled that Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh made the cut, this was my Book of the Month back in March. Another personal favourite is Deborah Levy, previously shortlisted for Swimming Home, with Hot Milk, a vivid, hallucinatory tale about the relationship between a mother and daughter.

"Just as interesting is who is missing this year. I would perhaps have expected Don DeLillo for K, Lionel Shriver's The Mandibles, Annie Proulx's Barkskins and perhaps Thomas Keneally for Napoleon's Last Island. Some omissions from the list which I've absolutely loved in 2016 are Donal Ryan's All We Shall Know, Eimear McBride's The Lesser Bohemians, The Fortunes by Peter Ho Davies and Chris Cleave for Everyone Brave is Forgiven."