A novel from crowd-funded publisher Unbound and three Hodder and three Vintage authors are on the 13-strong Man Booker Prize longlist. But Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch (Little, Brown), widely tipped for inclusion, is absent.
In the first Man Booker longlist issued under new rules which open the prize to writers of any nationality, there are six British writers in contention for the £50,000 prize: Howard Jacobson, who won the award in 2010, is longlisted for his forthcoming novel J (Jonathan Cape), David Mitchell is longlisted for The Bone Clocks (Sceptre), while David Nicholls (pictured) makes the list for Us (Hodder & Stoughton). Meanwhile Neel Mukherjee is longlisted for The Lives of Others (Chatto & Windus), about a family in Calcutta in 1967 one of whom becomes involved in extremist political activism; Ali Smith for How to be Both (Hamish Hamilton), a novel about the versatility of art; and Paul Kingsnorth for The Wake (Unbound), set three years after the Battle of Hastings.
There are four US writers on the list: Joshua Ferris for To Rise Again at a Decent Hour (Viking), about a dentist who finds social media profiles set up in his name; Karen Joy Fowler for We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, a novel about family upheaval, from independent publisher Serpent’s Tail; Siri Hustvedt for The Blazing World (Sceptre); and Richard Powers for Orfeo, about a fugitive pensioner who has been trying to extract music from rich patterns beyond the ear's ability to hear, from independent publisher Atlantic Books.
The list is completed by Australian Richard Flanagan for The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Chatto & Windus), set in a Japanese POW camp; Irish/American Joseph O’Neill for The Dog (Fourth Estate), about a lawyer who accepts a job in Dubai; and Irish Niall Williams for History of the Rain (Bloomsbury), set in County Clare and following a bedbound woman in search of her father.
The longlist is the first under new rules allowing authors of any nationality writing in English, and published by a UK publisher, to enter.
Concerns had been raised when the prize changes, which also include changes to the number of books a publisher can submit based on their longlists over the previous five years, were announced that it would lead to the domination of US writers.
Of the longlisted books five – J, The Bone Clocks, Us, The Dog, and How to be Both – are not currently due for release until September.
Chair of the 2014 judges, A C Grayling, said: ‘This is a diverse list of ambition, experiment, humour and artistry. The novels selected are full of wonderful stories and fascinating characters. The judges were impressed by the high quality of writing and the range of issues tackled - from 1066 to the future, from a PoW camp in Thailand, to a dentist’s chair in Manhattan; from the funny to the deeply serious, sometimes in the same book.”
Grayling told The Bookseller: “The one guiding principle that we used was ‘is this book good?’. The diverse nature of the list reflects the rich diversity of fiction out there. It [the list] has one thing in common, that it’s sheer quality. The Wake, for example, looks challenging in the first page or so, but it adds to the atmosphere of the book.” He added: "The world of fiction written in English is a global world. We are good enough to compete with American authors.”
The Bookseller's books editor Alice O'Keeffe commented: "It is an interesting list - Hodder must be thrilled. There are a few authors missing whom I would have expected to see; Ian McEwan for The Children Act (Jonathan Cape) and Nicola Barker's In the Approaches (Fourth Estate). Personally I'm sorry not to see Sarah Waters for The Paying Guests (Virago) as I thought it was terrific. I'm delighted to see David Mitchell's The Bone Clocks, one of my favourite books of the year."
A shortlist decided on by the panel of judges, which also includes Jonathan Bate, Sarah Churchwell, Daniel Glaser, Alastair Niven and Erica Wagner, will announced a shortlist on Tuesday 9th September.
The 2014 winner announcement will be made on Tuesday 14th October during a black tie dinner at London’s Guildhall and also broadcast broadcast live on the BBC.
Each shortlisted author will get £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book.
There were 154 books entered for this year’s prize, 44 of which were by authors eligible under the new rule changes. Commonwealth submissions were down from 43 last year to 31 this year.
Last year’s winner was Eleanor Catton with The Luminaries (Granta). Aged 28 at the time, Catton became the youngest winner in the prize’s history. The Luminaries was 832 pages long, making it the longest work to win the Man Booker.
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