Life in London’s Jewish community and Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, billionaires in China and hard times in Ireland all feature in the novels vying for this year’s Man Booker Prize.
The longlist for the prize, one of the English language’s top fiction awards, names 13 writers from seven countries.
“This is surely the most diverse longlist in Man Booker history: wonderfully various in terms of geography, form, length and subject,” said Robert Macfarlane, a writer and Cambridge University academic who chairs the panel of five judges.
“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 Shanghai to Hendon,” he said in a statement announcing the list.
Selected from 151 titles, it includes authors from Britain, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Malaysia and Ireland.
Two authors, Jim Crace with “Harvest” and Colm Toibin with “The Testament of Mary,” have appeared on the award’s shortlist previously.
The 2013 longlist includes established best-sellers Colum McCann and Jhumpa Lahiri with their latest novels “TransAtlantic” and “The Lowland,” and three debut authors.
The newcomers are Eve Harris with “The Marrying of Chani Kaufman” about an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in London, Zimbabwe’s NoViolet Bulawayo with “We Need New Names” about growing up under Mugabe, and Irish author Donal Ryan with “The Spinning Heart” about the impact of financial crisis on a small town in Ireland.
The latter contrasts with the latest book by award-winning Malaysian lawyer Tash Aw, “Five Star Billionaire,” about the economic boom in China.
Richard House makes the list with “The Kills,” a political thriller spread over four books.
In total seven women are the list, the others being Alison MacLeod with “Unexploded,” Charlotte Mendelson with “Almost English,” Canadian Ruth Ozeki with “A Tale for the Time Being,” and New Zealand’s Eleanor Catton with “The Luminaries.”
The judges will meet again in September to decide a shortlist of six books and the winner will be announced at a ceremony on October 15 in London.
Hilary Mantel won the 2012 prize for “Bring Up the Bodies,” making her the first woman and first Briton to win the coveted award twice. The award dates back to 1969.