The Man Booker judges have presented “vibrant” list for the prize’s longlist mainly focusing on disasters ranging from the financial to the natural. Heavyweight authors including Margaret Atwood, JM Coetzee, Roddy Doyle and David Peace missed out.
The judges took nine months to sift through 151 works, the most in recent times by a Booker jury, before coming up with 13 titles for the 2013 longlist for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction.
Jonny Geller, joint chief executive of literary and talent agency Curtis Brown, said: “It is one of the few longlists in recent years where I want to read more than a handful. Full of life, vibrancy and different worlds. The absence of some big names is not the point; the inclusion of new ones is what is exciting”.
“We were trying to think about the patterns and disaster is one: financial crashes and natural disasters,” the chair of the judges Robert Macfarlane said. “There is a lot of war. Money, violence, identity, love: the great themes that have always powered the novel.”
He added: “There’s globalisation and its discontents. These are novels, many of which are fascinated by the alienations and connections the global world brings about.”
With authors such as Atwood missing out, Mr Macfarlane said there was “no policy of giant killing or sacred cow slaughter,” adding: “It was a year in which unusually few former winners and shortlistees were published.”
Those who have previously won or been named on the Booker shortlisted have their new works automatically resubmitted. “They were discussed, but just didn’t make the longlist,” Mr Macfarlane said.
There are just three first novels on this year’s list. Eve Harris’s The Marrying of Chani Kaufman, We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo and Donal Ryan’s The Spinning Heart.
Colum McCann, whose work TransAtlantic has been named on the longlist, and Jhumpa Lahiri – up for The Lowland – have sold over a million copies of their work in the past. Other established major authors include Colm Toibin and Jim Crace.
Mr Macfarlane said: “What links them is variety. They range from 100 to 1,000 pages. From the 1st century AD to the present. A vast variety of form and in subject matter."
The shortest work at a little over 100 pages is Toibin’s The Testament of Mary, with questions raised over whether it should be in the running given its length. “The prize rules ask us to choose a novel that is unified and substantial and that’s what we thought the Toibin was.”
The 2013 longlist in full:
Tash Aw, Five Star Billionaire (Fourth Estate)
NoViolet Bulawayo, We Need New Names (Chatto & Windus)
Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries (Granta)
Jim Crace, Harvest (Picador)
Eve Harris, The Marrying of Chani Kaufman (Sandstone Press)
Richard House, The Kills (Picador)
Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland (Bloomsbury)
Alison MacLeod, Unexploded (Hamish Hamilton)
Colum McCann, TransAtlantic (Bloomsbury)
Charlotte Mendelson, Almost English (Mantle)
Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being (Canongate)
Donal Ryan, The Spinning Heart (Doubleday Ireland)
Colm Tóibín, The Testament of Mary (Viking)
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