Thirteen novels have been selected for the longlist for this year’s Man Booker Prize.
It’s an interesting mix of fiction by debut writers and more experienced names. Former winner Anne Enright’s The Green Road is nominated, as is Did You Ever Have a Family, the debut novel by New York literary agent Bill Clegg, author of the druggy memoir Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man.
Booker judge Michael Wood commented on the strength of Clegg’s writing. “People knew who Bill Clegg was and had read stories about him, and I don’t think we expected that much of it when we read it. But it is a very impressive book. Agents and editors know good writing when they see it, but they don’t always write well themselves; this book is extraordinarily well written.”
There are two other debuts on the list, The Chimes by New Zealander Anna Smaill, and The Fishermen by Nigerian writer Chigozie Obiama. Of the thirteen writers, five are from the United States, including Anne Tyler, Hanya Yanagihara, and Marilynne Robinson.
Quite a few big names were surprisingly not included. Former Booker winner Kazuo Ishiguro was expected to make the list for his novel The Buried Giant. John Banville, Jonathan Franzen, William Boyd and Margaret Atwood all have novels forthcoming, none of which was selected. Wood said that the panel read 156 books before selecting 13 novels – “the Man Booker Dozen” – and commented that the list “could have been twice as long, but we’re more than happy with our final choice.” The shortlist will be announced in September. The prize will be awarded in October. BY THE NUMBERS