Bill Clegg, Anne Enright, Marlon James, Laila Lalami, Tom McCarthy, Chigozie Obioma, Andrew O'Hagan, Marilynne Robinson, Anuradha Roy, Sunjeev Sahota, Anna Smaill, Anne Tyler and Hanya Yanagihara are this year's Man Booker "Dozen", longlisted for the £50,000 prize.
There are five US authors on the longlist, with three British writers and one each from Ireland, New Zealand, India, Nigeria and Jamaica; four books published by independent publishers; and three debut writers. Jonathan Cape has three books on the list, with Picador following with two books.
This is the second year the £50,000 prize has been open to any writer, writing originally in English and published in the UK, irrespective of nationality.
The three UK writers are Tom McCarthy, Andrew O’Hagan and Sunjeev Sahota. McCarthy and O’Hagan have both previously been shortlisted for the prize, for C in 2010 and Our Fathers in 1999 respectively. 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 who loses her entire family in a fire on the morning of her daughter’s wedding. Also from the US, but born in Rabat and the first Moroccan-born author longlisted for the prize, is Laila Lalami, for The Moor's Account, published by Periscope, an imprint of independent publisher Garnet Publishing. It is about one of four survivors of a Spanish expedition to modern-day Florida in the 1500s.
The other longlisted US titles are Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life (Picador), about four graduates who move to New York; Marilynne Robinson, who has been shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize twice, is longlisted for Lila (Virago), the story of the wife of a minister and widower; and Tyler makes the list for A Spool of Blue Thread (Chatto & Windus), a novel about different generations of the Whitshank family, which was shortlisted for this year’s Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.
The first Laureate for Irish Fiction Anne Enright, who won the Man Booker Prize in 2007 with The Gathering, is this year is longlisted for The Green Road (Jonathan Cape). The book is about siblings who return to their childhood home for one last Christmas before their mother sells their house.
Marlon James becomes the first Jamaican-born author to ever be longlisted for the prize, with his book A Brief History of Seven Killings (Oneworld Publications). The book is set over three decades and explores the time seven gunmen stormed Bob Marley’s house in Jamaica.
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, is longlisted for Sleeping on Jupiter (MacLehose Press, Quercus), about a group of old women going on a dream holiday, and a young girl, set in Jamuli, a temple town by the sea.
New Zealand’s Anna Smaill makes the list for her debut The Chimes (Sceptre), a literary dystopia set in a society where music has replaced the written word.
Chair of judges, author and academic Michael Wood, said: “The range of different performances and forms of these novels is amazing. All of them do something exciting with the language they have chosen to use.”
He told The Bookseller: “I think the list says something about the range of possibilities for writers. There are all kinds of ways of being a writer. These books do everything: the authors have invented worlds, have written about themselves, about other people.”
Wood said that while there were five novelists living in America on the list, the inclusion of American writers “opened the door to other parts of the world”, pointing out that Yanagihara's ancestry is Hawaiian, and that Lalami was born in Morocco.
The judges read 156 novels altogether. Wood said: “We had a great time choosing this list. Discussions weren’t always peaceful, but they were always very friendly. We were lucky in our companions and the submissions were extraordinary. The longlist could have been twice as long, but we’re more than happy with our final choice."
The Bookseller's acting books editor Cathy Rentzenbrink said: "It's a wonderful longlist, richly diverse and nicely gender-balanced. I'm extremely pleased to see A Little Life on there which I would tip to win. I think it's the most interesting and outstanding novel I've read by far this year. As a reader, looking at that list, I think, 'Thank heavens, all the judges really know what they're doing'. It has great authority, range and interest." However she regretted the omission of Kate Atkinson's A God in Ruins.
The 2015 Man Booker Prize shortlist will be announced on 15th September, and the winner on 13th October at a ceremony at London’s Guildhall. Joining Wood on the judging panel this year are critic, broadcaster and editor Ellah Allfrey, novelist John Burnside, the Spectator’s literary editor Sam Leith, and author Frances Osborne.
Each of the shortlisted authors will receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book.
Last year’s prize was won by Australian Richard Flanagan, for his sixth novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Chatto). The novel, set during World War Two, was inspired by the author's father's experiences in a prisoner of war camp. It was described as "a literary masterpiece".
The Man Booker Prize is sponsored by Man Group.