Man Booker Prize Longlist Announced

As if you didn’t have enough reading weighing down your beach bag this summer, here it is: the longlist for the Man Booker Prize.

The panel in charge of awarding the prize, headed up by Princeton professor Michael Wood, considered 156 titles for the longlist, ultimately selecting thirteen to place on what is arguably one of the literary world’s most prominent chopping blocks.

Until 2014, only writers hailing from the UK or the Commonwealth were eligible to receive the prize. An American writer has yet to emerge victorious (last year’s prize went to Australian writer Richard Flanagan for The Narrow Road to the Deep North), but this year they represent the largest national contingent on the longlist. Bill Clegg, whose 2010 memoir Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man earned him the rarified status of literary agent/author, is among the five Americans to make the cut. His debut novel, Did You Ever Have a Family, is the only nominated title that has yet to be released. It will compete with established successes like A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara’s ambitious novel about gay men in America, and A Brief History of Seven Killings, which spans several decades of political tumult in writer Marlon James’s native Jamaica.

The remaining nominees represent a broad swath of the Commonwealth, hailing from New Zealand, India, Nigeria, Scotland, and England. Professor Wood said, of the selection process, “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.” Careful words from a man whom the conspicuously snubbed (Jonathan Franzen, Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie) might be crafting bespectacled voodoo dolls of at this very moment.

Who will triumph, joining the ranks of past winners like Yann Martel, Arundhati Roy, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Penelope Fitzgerald, and netting a cool £50,000? Your guess is as good as ours, but those looking to snag a copy not emblazoned with that bandwagon ensign, the Man Booker emblem, had best act fast — i.e. before the shortlist is announced on September 15.

The Longlist:

Bill Clegg (US) — Did You Ever Have a Family
Anne Enright (Ireland) — The Green Road
Marlon James (Jamaica) — A Brief History of Seven Killings
Laila Lalami (US) — The Moor’s Account
Tom McCarthy (UK) — Satin Island
Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria) — The Fishermen
Andrew O’Hagan (UK) — The Illuminations
Marilynne Robinson (US) — Lila
Anuradha Roy (India) — Sleeping on Jupiter
Sunjeev Sahota (UK) — The Year of the Runaways
Anna Smaill (New Zealand) — The Chimes
Anne Tyler (US) — A Spool of Blue Thread
Hanya Yanagihara (US) — A Little Life

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