The Booker's Dozen: judges reveal 13 works in line for literary prize

Some might consider it curmudgeonly to reflect on the novels left off the Man Booker prize long list, which was announced yesterday, rather than commend the 13 authors who made the final cut.

But others – arguably much of the literary world – will find it impossible not to mention the glaring omission of Ian McEwan's novel Solaris, considered by many in the industry to be the publishing event of the year. Andrew Motion, the chair of this year's Booker jury, dimissed suggestions that anyone had been noticeably snubbed by the prize, be it McEwan or Martin Amis, another big-name British novelist who published The Pregnant Widow this year, albeit to brutal reviews.

He acknowledged McEwan's absence, but said the judges had simply "liked other books better" and added that each work had been judged on its merit rather than the reputation of its author.

"It's always a pity when people respond by pointing out books that aren't on the list rather than the ones that are... we were not interested in the previous form of the writers. Here are 13 exceptional novels – books we have chosen for their intrinsic quality without reference to the past work of their author," he said.

Those who did make the long list, whittled down from a total of 138 works of fiction, include the Independent columnist Howard Jacobson, whose novel The Finkler Question is yet to hit the bookshelves, and Peter Carey, a recipient of two previous Booker prizes. He was selected for Parrot and Olivier in America, a historical tale of two men from the 18th century who are tied together as master and servant.

Last night the book fast became the bookies' favourite, perhaps unsurprising given the author's impressive track record. Carey won the prize in 1988 for Oscar and Lucinda and again in 2001 for True History of the Kelly Gang. He is one of only two authors, along with JM Coetzee, to have won the Booker twice.

Along with The Finkler Question, Tom McCarthy's C and Emma Donaghue's Room have yet to be published. All three are set to hit bookshelves in early August, suggesting that the late summer slot – formerly viewed as a graveyard for publishers – has now become the perfect season for writers.

The long list strikes a careful balance between historical fiction – which dominated the prize last year – and contemporary fare. Room is perhaps the jury's most controversial choice, telling the story of a young boy who is kidnapped and confined to a locked room. It was inspired by the Joseph Fritzl kidnapping case in Austria two years ago.

Donoghue, better known for historical novels such as Slammerkin, has said in past interviews that this was the first occasion in which she had been inspired by a contemporary story, claiming: "I knew from the start it was not going to be a hideous read, or true crime at all."

Lisa Moore's February is also based on real world events, namely a disaster on an oil rig off the coast of Newfoundland, on Valentine's Day 1982. Three authors on the list have been shortlisted before: Mitchell for number9dream and the bestseller Cloud Atlas, Damon Galgut for The Good Doctor, and Rose Tremain for Restoration. The winner of the £50,000 prize will be announced on 12 October.

The Thousand Autumns of Zacob de Zoet

David Mitchell

The Independent said: "Mitchell writes with such invigorating edge and dash that scarcely a sentence stands idle... this sumptuous imbroglio never drags"

The Betrayal

Helen Dunmore

The Independent on Sunday: "It is said that Dunmore's writing is sensuous, physical and almost synaesthetic. Here, it is all that, but also sparse and elegant when needs be."

Parrot and Olivier in America

Peter Carey

The Independent said: "Wonderfully witty and visual prose, which springs surprise after surprise on the reader... this is a book full of good things"

The Long Song

Andrea Levy

The Independent said: Levy "has a real gift for comedy... a well-researched book that wears its scholarship lightly"

February

Lisa Moore

The Independent said: "Moore's firm grip and fine craft make something special from this novel of disaster and its aftermath... supple, graceful prose"

In a Strange Room

Damon Galgut

Synopsis: Written in three segments, each concerns separate journeys undertaken in different circumstances by the narrator

The Finkler Question

Howard Jacobson

To be published in August

Synopisis: Julian Treslove, radio producer and bachelor, dines with two old friends who have been widowed recently. They reminisce and on his way home, Julian suffers a brutal attack that comes to transform his world.

The Slap

Christos Tsiolkas

The Independent said: "A beautifully structured examination of the complexity of modern living; a compelling journey into the darkness of suburbia"

Skippy Dies

Paul Murray

The Independent said: "Adept at winding science and history into its design... the book strays near some dark territory, but maintains its light, utterly readable, skippy tread throughout"

Trespass

Rose Tremain

The Independent said: "Tremain's writing is both vivid and wonderfully compressed... the novel is only 250 pages long, but it packs an enormous punch – the work of a writer at the top of her game"

Room

Emma Donoghue

Published next month.

Synopsis: A story about a child abducted and kept confined in a room; it was inspired by the real-life case of Josef Fritzl in Austria

C

Tom McCarthy

Published next month.

Synopsis: The story of Serge Carrefax, a young man born at the dawn of the 20th century who becomes steeped in emergent technologies

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

music
Arts and Entertainment

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

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
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.

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform