Booker Prize pits tiny Highlands publisher against literary giants

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

A publisher operating out of a bedroom in a flat in the Scottish Highlands has had one of its novels longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

Sandstone Press was set up nine years ago to publish poetry and has only published seven novels. Its book The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers, released in February, is set to take on the country's biggest publishing groups for the world's most prestigious literary prize. The winner gets a £50,000 cheque.

"We are all thrilled," said Sandstone founder Robert Davidson, 62, a retired former engineer who lives in Dingwall, 15 miles north of Inverness. "We are happy for Jane and for this wonderful book. Hopefully this will begin our progression into a British publisher of note."

Rogers said: "I am completely stunned, and amazed. I've been doing my mother-in-law's garden and got back in the car and saw I had six messages. I am speechless."

Her book is the story of a "near future" where pregnant women are dying from an incurable disease, praised by The Independent for being a "small, calm voice of reason in an nonsensical world".

According to an awards spokesman, all but four of the 13-strong longlist are from a "non-conglomerate" publisher, the highest number ever represented on the longlist. The judging chair, Dame Stella Rimington, denied that there was any agenda to represent smaller publishers. "It was a competitive shortlist but we didn't have any specific agenda in mind," she said.

This year's longlist is headed byAlan Hollinghurst with The Stranger's Child, the bookies' favourite to win. Hollinghurst won the award in 2004 for The Line of Beauty. Dame Stellasaid his latest novel was "interesting" with a "fascinating central character."

Julian Barnes, who had been shortlisted for the award three times but never won, is also on the list for The Sense of an Ending, concerned with the fortunes of a group of schoolfriends. He joined four first-time writers on the list: Stephen Kelman, AD Miller, Yvette Edwards and Patrick McGuinness.

Other notable inclusions include the Independent on Sunday columnist DJ Taylor for Derby Day, a Victorian drama about a betting sting. "I said to myself this morning, having seen many longlists come and go, that my book wasn't the kind of book you would get on the longlist," said Taylor. "You get a nose for these things. But I am immensely gratified."

Notable omissions include Justin Cartwright, Ali Smith, AL Kennedy and Andrew Miller, and former winners, including Anne Enright and Aravind Adiga, all of whom have released eligible books. One employee of a major publishing house, which had no longlisted authors, tweeted yesterday: "Congrats to all those authors and publishers but gutted none of ours made the longlist... I feel pretty sick and stunned."

The shortlisted authors will be announced on 6 September, with the winner announced the following month at a dinner at Guildhall in London.

The award's judges are the writer and journalist Matthew d'Ancona, the author Susan Hill, the author and politician Chris Mullin and the journalist Gaby Wood, chaired by the author and former spy chief Dame Stella.

She said: "We are delighted by the quality and breadth of our longlist, which emerged from an impassioned discussion. The list ranges from the Wild West to multi-ethnic London via post-Cold War Moscow and Bucharest, and includes four first novels."

Man Booker dozen...

Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending

This short novel takes in a middle-aged man "resigned to his own ordinariness" reassessing his schooldays.

Sebastian Barry, On Canaan's Side

Revolves around Lilly Bere, mourning the loss of her grandson; the reader is transported back to Bere's experiences of the First World War, the new world of America, and the next seven decades of her life.

Carol Birch, Jamrach's Menagerie

Novel deriving from real-life sinking of whale-ship Essex in 1820, and taking in the life of Charles Jamrach, a leading wild animal dealer.

Patrick deWitt, The Sisters Brothers

The tale of two outlaws travelling across the Wild West coming to terms with their relationship and their profession.

Esi Edugyan, Half Blood Blues

Revolves around the story of Hieronymus "Hiero" Falk, a mixed-race jazz trumpeter forbidden from playing in 1930s Berlin.

Yvvette Edwards, A Cupboard Full of Coats

Lemon and Jinx, two old acquaintances, meet each other and rediscover the circumstances surrounding the fatal stabbing of Jinx's mother.

Alan Hollinghurst, The Stranger's Child

Explores the life and legacy of a gay war poet and how truth can be compromised by remembrance.

Stephen Kelman, Pigeon English

Portrait of the protagonists involved in Peckham's gangland culture.

Patrick McGuinness, The Last Hundred Days

Set in a 1980 Romania full of secret service agents, ravaged beauty and political turbulence, charting the fall of Nicolae Ceausescu's rule of terror.

AD Miller, Snowdrops

A psychological thriller unfolding during one Moscow winter.

Alison Pick, Far to Go

Tells the story of two Jews whose lives are upturned by the arrival of Nazi forces in Czechoslovakia during the Second World War.

Jane Rogers, The Testament of Jessie Lamb

Set in a future world where pregnant women are dying from an unknown affliction and various protest groups cannot agree on what to do.

DJ Taylor, Derby Day

Revolves around characters whose fates revolve around the results of the Derby at Epsom.

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam