Unless you’re an active follower of prize culture or a glutton for disappointment, you’re not likely to pay attention to awards until after the winner has been announced. A marquee-level author is usually promised to win, whereby you can be decently convinced he or she is as good as the hype, or express outrage – OUTRAGE! – over a personal favorite getting snubbed and what it may mean for the lit world as a whole.
This year’s Man Booker Prize, which just today announced its longlist for the best English-language fiction books of 2015/2016, may be a little different.
As with most prizes, the men and women behind the Man Booker have sought to expand the variety of authorship in recent years. In this year’s longlist, there’s a mix of mainstays (two-time Man Booker winner J.M. Coatzee) and fresh faces (four novels on the list are debuts). There are literary heavyweights (A.L. Kennedy, who’s been racking up awards and nominations since 1996) and dark-horses (Graeme Macrae Burnet, whose nominated book was quietly released on a tiny imprint). In terms of diversity of nominees, it could be worse: of the 13 novels, six were written by women. Nationally, the authors nominated hail from Great Britain (6), The United States (5), Canada and South Africa (2). That doesn’t sound great, but it is only the fourth year authors outside the Commonwealth are eligible for consideration, and progress is always slow.
The chair of the judging panel, Amanda Foreman, wrote in the announcement:
“This is a very exciting year. The range of books is broad and the quality extremely high. Each novel provoked intense discussion and, at times, passionate debate, challenging our expectations of what a novel is and can be…From the historical to the contemporary, the satirical to the polemical, the novels in this list come from both established writers and new voices. The writing is uniformly fresh, energetic and important. It is a longlist to be relished.”
The judges will read all of the “Booker Dozen”, which we hope you do too, and announce a shortlist on September 13th. The winner, who will receive a £50,000 prize (more than $65,500), will be revealed on October 25.
Okay, okay! What are the books? Here they go below!
The Sellout by Paul Beatty
The Schooldays of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee
Serious Sweet by A.L. Kennedy
Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet
The North Water by Ian McGuire
Hystopia by David Means
The Many by Wyl Menmuir
Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh
Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves
My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
All That Man Is by David Szalay
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien