Multiple prize-winner Hilary Mantel is in the running for this year's Women's Prize for Fiction, with previous winners Barbara Kingsolver and Zadie Smith also featured on the 20-strong longlist.
Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies (Fourth Estate) is up against Kingsolver's Flight Behaviour (Faber) and Smith's NW (Hamish Hamilton).
The first-time novelists on the list include Ros Barber for The Marlowe Papers (Sceptre), G Willow Wilson for Alif the Unseen (Corvus). There are four novels from Random House imprints: Kate Atkinson's Life After Life (Doubleday); The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu (Hogarth); Lamb by Bonnie Nadzam (Hutchinson); The Innocents by Francesca Segal (Chatto & Windus), and The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman
Random House has a further three titles on the list, giving it a dominant seven books, over one third of the longlist. Hachette takes four spots, including the much talked about Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Weidenfeld & Nicolson). Penguin and Bloomsbury take two spots apiece, Penguin with Honour by Elif Shafak, one of the LBF Authors of the Day. Faber, Granta, Picador and Corvus all have one entry on the longlist. For the full longlist, see below.
Foyles Jonathan Ruppin said: "It's no surprise to see Hilary Mantel in contention again, but there are a number of other authors on the list who also deserve the wider attention she now receives: the two previous winners Zadie Smith and Barbara Kingsolver, Kate Atkinson, Michèle Roberts, Elif Shafak and AM Homes in particular . . .
"Bookshops find that longlists with as many titles as this tend to have less impact on sales: ten or a dozen provides a greater opportunity for engaging with readers at this stage of the process. . . Mantel will inevitably be the favourite, but my tip would be May We Be Forgiven by A M Homes, who deserves a place alongside writers such as Jonathan Franzen, Don DeLillo and Richard Ford as one of the heavyweights of contemporary American literature.”
The £30,000 prize was up until this year sponsored by Orange; for 2013 it is being funded by a collection of individual donors including Cherie Blair and Martha Lane Fox. Founder Kate Mosse has said a permanent sponsor will be announced for 2014 onwards.
Judge Natasha Walter told The Bookseller the sponsorship changes have not had any impact on the judging process: "I think the Orange Prize, as it has been for so long, has really carved out a position as rewarding excellence. Because it is the same team behind it, led by Kate Mosse, you do feel that whoever comes in to sponsor it, she will be there to keep the same line running through it."
She added that the prize was able to hold its ground as more awards, such as the Literature Prize, are set up: "Obviously there are more prizes than there were before, but I think there is still enormous space for each one. The question is often asked of festivals now, because there are so many, but you have to remember this is about bringing positive things. The publishing industry is under pressure and the more we can do to bring to attention to these great works, the better."
On selecting the much-lauded Mantel, Walter said: "We are really trying not to think about the prizes these writers have won; you have to just keep it as direct and passionate as you can."
The shortlist will be announced on 16th April, with the awards ceremony held on 5th June.
The longlist in full:
Kitty Aldridge A Trick I Learned From Dead Men (Jonathan Cape)
Kate Atkinson Life After Life (Doubleday)
Ros Barber The Marlowe Papers (Sceptre)
Shani Boianjiu The People of Forever are Not Afraid (Hogarth)
Gillian Flynn Gone Girl (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Sheila Heti How Should A Person Be? (Harvill Secker)
A M Homes May We Be Forgiven (Granta)
Barbara Kingsolver Flight Behaviour (Faber)
Deborah Copaken Kogan The Red Book (Virago)
Hilary Mantel Bring Up the Bodies (Fourth Estate)
Bonnie Nadzam Lamb (Hutchinson)
Emily Perkins The Forrests (Bloomsbury Circus)
Michèle Roberts Ignorance (Bloomsbury)
Francesca Segal The Innocents (Chatto & Windus)
Maria Semple Where’d You Go, Bernadette (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Elif Shafak Honour (Viking)
Zadie Smith NW (Hamish Hamilton)
M L Stedman The Light Between Oceans (Doubleday)
Carrie Tiffany Mateship with Birds (Picador)
G. Willow Wilson Alif the Unseen (Corvus Books)