The latest longlist for the biennial Warwick Prize for Writing (£25,000) has pitted novelists Julian Barnes and Jonathan Franzen against theoretical physicist Jim Al-Khalili and academic psychologist Cordelia Fine.
The longlist includes six fiction, three non-fiction and three poetry books. In fiction, The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (Jonathan Cape), Sufficient Grace by Amy Espeseth (Scribe), Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (4th Estate), River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh (John Murray), The Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally (John Murray) and Suddenly, a Knock on the Door by Etgar Keret (Chatto & Windus) are all included. In non-fiction, the contenders are Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science by Jim Al-Khalili (Penguin), Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine (Icon Books) and The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane (Hamish Hamilton). The poetry titles on the longlist are Cumulus by Robert Gray (John Leonard Press), Book of Sins by Nidaa Khoury (House of Nehesi Publishers) and Memorial by Alice Oswald (Faber).
The prize, run by the University of Warwick, is unique as an international, cross-disciplinary award open to substantial pieces of writing in the English language, in any genre or form.
This year, the chair of judges is Professor Ian Sansom of the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick, judging alongside acclaimed writer Marina Warner CBE and Professor Ed Byrne, Vice-Chancellor and President of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.
Sansom said: "This is an extraordinary longlist and demonstrates exactly why the Warwick Prize is unique. We have here books in every genre, from all around the world. The only difficulty now will be choosing a winner from among them."
Naomi Klein was the inaugural winner of the prize in 2009, for her book The Shock Doctrine, an exposé of how a privileged few are making millions from worldwide disasters. Peter Forbes won the prize in 2011 for Dazzled and Deceived, a fascinating story of mimicry and camouflage in nature, art and warfare.
The shortlist of six titles will be announced in August and the winner will be revealed in late September.