The Man Booker Dozen: a guide

The Man Booker Dozen: a guide

Family, identity and the past are among the themes addressed by the books on this year’s Man Booker Prize longlist.

The 13 books, known as the Man Booker Dozen, tackle a variety of subjects, time spans and countries.

There are seven women on the list and five US-based authors.

The UK is represented by Tom McCarthy, Andrew O’Hagan and Sunjeev Sahota. McCarthy is longlisted for Satin Island (Jonathan Cape), about a character call U. who works for an elite consultancy in London.

O’Hagan makes the list for The Illuminations (Faber & Faber), a story about love and memory.

Sahota is longlisted for The Year of the Runaways (Picador), telling the story of 13 men from India living in a house in Sheffield and searching for a new life.

From the US, New York literary agent Bill Clegg, is longlisted for his debut Did You Ever Have a Family (Jonathan Cape), which is about a woman whose family dies in a house fire on the morning of her daughter’s wedding. The Bookseller’s Tom Tivnan called the novel “beguiling” and “emotionally wrenching”.

Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life (Picador) focuses on the friendship of four graduates who move to New York. In an interview with The Bookseller, Yanagihara said her reader called A Little Life an “emotional horror story”. At 736 pages, it is the longest book on this year’s longlist.

Anne Tyler makes the list for A Spool of Blue Thread (Chatto & Windus), a novel about different generations of the Whitshank family. One of the novel’s main characters is Denny, the black sheep of the family. Talking to The Bookseller Tyler said she has a “great fascination with characters like Denny…so I very much wanted to go into what it feels like to be someone who loves him; the members of his family, particularly his mother”.

Laila Lalami’s The Moor's Account (Periscope) focuses on a slave, Estebanico, who is just one of four survivors of a Spanish expedition to modern-day Florida in the 1500s.

Marilynne Robinson is longlisted for Lila (Virago), the story of the wife of a minister and widower. The book is part of her Gilead series.

Irish author Anne Enright’s The Green Road (Jonathan Cape) is about siblings who return to their childhood home for one last Christmas before their mother sells their house.

Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings (Oneworld Publications) is set over three decades. It explores the story of seven gunmen who stormed Bob Marley’s house in Jamaica, and spans a number of continents.

Nigeria’s Chigozie Obioma is longlisted for his debut The Fishermen (One, Pushkin Press), about four young brothers in a small Nigerian town who encounter a madman.

Anuradha Roy, from India, makes the list for Sleeping on Jupiter (MacLehose Press, Quercus). The book follows a young woman, and a group of old women, both of who end up in Jamuli, a temple town by the sea.

New Zealand’s Anna Smaill is longlisted for her debut The Chimes (Sceptre), a literary dystopia set in a society where music has replaced the written word.

Chair of judges Michael Wood told The Bookseller: “The books are very different and there is no single theme, but there are things that reoccur.

“There are things about memory, and a lot of things about dealing with the past, and does that past ever go away.

“There were a lot of things about families, who either look weird at the beginning of a book or look nice and are then strange.

“There was stuff about trying to come to terms with who people are now.”

The Man Booker Prize shortlist will be announced on 15th September, and the winner on 13th October at a ceremony at London’s Guildhall.