[The JRB Daily] 2017 Man Booker Prize longlist announced – no African authors make the cut

The longlist for the 2017 Man Booker Prize for Fiction has been announced.

The prize, worth £50,000, was first awarded in 1969 and is open to writers of any nationality, writing in English and published in the UK.

The United Kingdom and the United States again dominate this year’s longlist, with four writers apiece. No African authors have made the list this year, for only the sixth time since the Booker Prize longlists were first made public in 2001. Prior to 2013, only citizens of the Commonwealth, the Republic of Ireland or Zimbabwe were eligible for the prize, but eligibility was controversially extended to the United States for the 2014 edition of the prize, leading to fears other countries and regions would be squeezed out. However, this year around a third of submissions were by American writers—slightly down on last year, according to The Guardian—and Chair of judges Baroness Lola Young praised the longlist’s diversity.

‘Only when we’d finally selected our 13 novels did we fully realise the huge energy, imagination and variety in them as a group,’ she said. ‘The longlist showcases a diverse spectrum — not only of voices and literary styles but of protagonists too, in their culture, age and gender. Nevertheless we found there was a spirit common to all these novels: though their subject matter might be turbulent, their power and range were life-affirming—a tonic for our times.

‘Together their authors—both recognised and new—explore an array of literary forms and techniques, from those working in a traditional vein to those who aim to move the walls of fiction.’

It is concerning to note, however, that this years longlist features just one author who does not have either UK, US or Ireland appended to their name.

 

The 2017 longlist, or Man Booker ‘Dozen’, of 13 novels, is:

Title Author (nationality) (imprint)
4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster (US) (Faber & Faber)
Days Without End by Sebastian Barry (Ireland) (Faber & Faber)
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (US) (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Pakistan-UK) (Hamish Hamilton)
Solar Bones by Mike McCormack (Ireland) (Canongate)
Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor (UK) (4th Estate)
Elmet by Fiona Mozley (UK) (JM Originals)
The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy (India) (Hamish Hamilton)
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (US) (Bloomsbury)
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (UK-Pakistan) (Bloomsbury)
Autumn by Ali Smith (UK) (Hamish Hamilton)
Swing Time by Zadie Smith (UK) (Hamish Hamilton)
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (US) (Fleet)

 

The 13-book longlist is made up of seven men and six women, with three debut novelists and three novels from independent presses. It was chosen from 144 submissions published in the UK between 1 October 2016 and 30 September 2017. This year’s judging panel is Baroness Lola Young (Chair), literary critic Lila Azam Zanganeh, Man Booker Prize shortlisted novelist Sarah Hall, artist Tom Phillips, and travel writer Colin Thubron.

Arundhati Roy makes the list for the second time with her second work of fiction, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, after winning the prize in 1997. Four of the longlisted authors have been shortlisted previously: Ali Smith three times (2001, Hotel World; 2005, The Accidental; and 2014, How to Be Both); Zadie Smith once (2005, On Beauty), Sebastian Barry twice (2005, A Long Long Way Down; 2008, The Secret Scripture; and longlisted in 2011 for On Canaan’s Side) and Mohsin Hamid once (2007, The Reluctant Fundamentalist). It is also the third longlist appearance for Jon McGregor (2002, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things; 2006, So Many Ways To Begin).

The three debut novels are Elmet by Fiona Mozley, History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund and Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. Mozley, aged 29, and Fridlund, aged 38, are the youngest authors on the list. Three independent publishers are longlisted: Canongate, Faber & Faber and Bloomsbury.

The shortlist of six books will be announced on Wednesday 13 September. The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book. The 2017 winner will be announced on Tuesday 17 October in London’s Guildhall at a black-tie dinner.

The Man Booker Prize is renowned for its ability to boost sales, as demonstrated by last year’s winner, The Sellout by Paul Beatty, sales of which increased by 658 per cent in the week following the announcement.

 

 

 

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