Man Booker Longlist goes Global

The reading room of the British Museum in London. Photo by David Iliff, Creative Commons via Wikipedia

Organizers of  the Man Booker Prize released their first long list in a competition open to the wide world — or at least to titles written originally in English, and published in the United Kingdom.

Read the column Judging the Man Booker Prize by literature professor and 2012 judge Dinah Birch, in F&O’s Ex Libris section.

The list includes four independent publishers and one publisher, Unbound, that is crowd-funded. Four Americans made the list for a prize previously restricted to the United Kingdom, Commonwealth countries, the Republic of Ireland, and Zimbabwe. The titles were winn owed to 13 from 154 original entries. They are:

  • Joshua Ferris (American) — To Rise Again at a Decent Hour (Viking)
  • Richard Flanagan (Australian) — The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Chatto & Windus)
  • Karen Joy Fowler (American) — We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Serpent’s Tail)
  • Siri Hustvedt (American) — The Blazing World (Sceptre)
  • Howard Jacobson (British) — J (Jonathan Cape)
  • Paul Kingsnorth (British) — The Wake (Unbound)
  • David Mitchell (British) — The Bone Clocks (Sceptre)
  • Neel Mukherjee (British) — The Lives of Others (Chatto & Windus)
  • David Nicholls (British) — Us (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Joseph O’Neill (Irish/American) — The Dog (Fourth Estate)
  • Richard Powers (American) — Orfeo  (Atlantic Books)
  • Ali Smith (British) — How to be Both (Hamish Hamilton)
  • Niall Williams (Irish) — History of the Rain (Bloomsbury)

Organizers said the shortlist will released September 9 at Man Group, the British investment firm that sponsors the prize, with the winner announced at a black tie event on October 14. For those who find value in competitions that judge literature  — I am dubious, though I see the need to spotlight books deemed worthy in the annual flood of words —  The Man Booker is, arguably, the world’s most prestigious literary prize after the Nobel.

Shortlisted authors receive £2,500 and a specially-bound edition of their book, said the organization in a press release. The winner receives £50,000 “and can expect overnight fame and international recognition, not to mention a significant increase in book sales.”

The Man Booker press release quoted 2013 winner Eleanor Catton on the benefits: “I’ve been given opportunities to travel and to see my book read by such an astonishingly wide readership all over the world.”
— Deborah Jones
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