Booker Book Contest

1a booker booksThe ‘most diverse’ list in book prize’s history

By Alan Tristram

Judges for the 2013 Man Booker prize say they’ve have drawn up what is ‘surely the most diverse’ longlist in the prize’s history – with Kiwi author Eleanor Catton (The Luminaries ) the youngest writer at 27.

Our main book reviewer, Ralph McAllister, is reading ‘The Luminaries’ already and we hope to bring you his verdict before too long. But, at more than 800 pages, The Luminaries is a demanding read.

According to the Guardian, the Judges ‘have named 13 books by authors who are mostly far from being household names.’

Only two authors on the list have been nominated for the prize before: Jim Crace is listed for his 11th novel Harvest, 16 years after he was shortlisted for Quarantine; and Colm Tóibín, shortlisted twice before, is in the running for The Testament of Mary, which came out last year.

Robert Macfarlane, this year’s chair of judges, said: “This is surely the most diverse longlist in Man Booker history: wonderfully various in terms of geography, form, length and subject.

“These 13 outstanding novels range from the traditional to the experimental, from the first century AD to the present day, from 100 pages to 1,000, and from

New Zealand's Booker Entry
New Zealand’s Booker Entry

Shanghai to Hendon.”

The 1,000-page book is one of the most intriguing on the list. The Kills, by Richard House – a writer and artist who teaches at the University of Birmingham – could be described as a political thriller but is much more than that: Strictly speaking, it is four books in one novel and comes with extra, digitally available film and audio content, although the Booker panel is judging only the words.

Three first-time novelists are on this year’s list. NoViolet Bulawayo, who was born in Zimbabwe a year after it became independent and moved to the US at the age of 18, is on it for We Need New Names, which has been described a ‘visceral and bittersweet’ portrayal of life in a Zimbabwean shantytown called Paradise.

Eve Harris, published by the small Highlands publisher Sandstone, is longlisted for her yet-to-be-released book The Marrying of Chani Kaufman, set in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community of Hendon in London.

And Donal Ryan makes the longlist for The Spinning Heart, a novel told from the points of view of 21 people struggling to get by in a rural Irish village.

Ryan is one of three Irish writers on the list, the others being Tóibín and Colum McCann,