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The Man Booker Prize 2018 Longlist announced

The Man Booker Prize 2018 Longlist announced

The longlist, or ‘Man Booker Dozen’, for the £50,000 Man Booker Prize is announced today! 

This year’s longlist of 13 books was selected by a panel of five judges: by the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah (Chair); crime writer Val McDermid; cultural critic Leo Robson; feminist writer and critic Jacqueline Rose; and artist and graphic novelist Leanne Shapton.

The list was chosen from 171 submissions – the highest number of titles put forward in the prize’s 50 year history – published in the UK and Ireland between 1 October 2017 and 30 September 2018.

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction, first awarded in 1969, is open to writers of any nationality, writing in English and published in the UK and Ireland. This is the first year that novels published in Ireland are eligible for the prize, following a change in rules announced at the start of 2018 that recognised the special relationship between the UK and Irish publishing markets.

The 2018 longlist, or Man Booker ‘Dozen’, of 13 novels, is:

Author (country/territory)          Title (imprint)
Belinda Bauer (UK)                      Snap (Bantam Press)

Anna Burns (UK)                          Milkman (Faber & Faber)

Nick Drnaso (USA)                       Sabrina (Granta Books)

Esi Edugyan (Canada)                 Washington Black (Serpent’s Tail)

Guy Gunaratne (UK)                    In Our Mad And Furious City (Tinder Press)

Daisy Johnson (UK)                     Everything Under (Jonathan Cape)

Rachel Kushner (USA)                The Mars Room (Jonathan Cape)

Sophie Mackintosh (UK)              The Water Cure (Hamish Hamilton)

Michael Ondaatje (Canada)         Warlight (Jonathan Cape)

Richard Powers (USA)                 The Overstory (William Heinemann)

Robin Robertson (UK)                  The Long Take (Picador)

Sally Rooney (Ireland)                  Normal People (Faber & Faber)

Donal Ryan (Ireland)                    From A Low And Quiet Sea (Doubleday Ireland)

 

Chair of the 2018 judges, Kwame Anthony Appiah, says:

“Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the times, there were many dystopian fictions on our bookshelf – and many novels we found inspirational as well as disturbing. Some of those we have chosen for this longlist feel urgent and topical, others might have been admired and enjoyed in any year. All of these books – which take in slavery, ecology, missing persons, inner-city violence, young love, prisons, trauma, race – capture something about a world on the brink. Among their many remarkable qualities is a willingness to take risks with form. And we were struck, overall, by their disruptive power: these novels disrupted the way we thought about things we knew about, and made us think about things we didn’t know about. Still, despite what they have in common, every one of these books is wildly distinctive. It’s been an exhilarating journey so far and we’re looking forward to reading them again. But now we’ll have thousands and thousands of people reading along with us.”
 

This year’s Golden Man Booker winner Michael Ondaatje – a special one-off award that crowned the best work of fiction from the last five decades of the prize – makes the list with his seventh novel Warlight; Ondaatje’s The English Patient shared the 1992 Booker Prize with Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth. He is joined by three other authors previously nominated for the prize: Esi Edugyan (shortlisted in 2011 for Half-Blood Blues), Donal Ryan (longlisted in 2013 for The Spinning Heart), and Richard Powers (longlisted in 2014 for Orfeo).

Four debut novels are recognised by the judges this year, including eminent Scottish poet Robin Robertson’s The Long Take, which is a novel in verse, Sophie Mackintosh’s The Water Cure, Guy Gunaratne’s In Our Mad And Furious City and Daisy Johnson’s Everything Under. Johnson, aged 27, is the joint youngest author on the list, alongside Sally Rooney (for Normal People).

Four independent publishers are longlisted: Faber & Faber (with two titles), Granta and Serpent’s Tail. They are joined by Penguin Random House imprints Hamish Hamilton, William Heinemann, Bantam Press and Jonathan Cape (which makes the list three times); Pan Macmillan imprint Picador; Headline, owned by Hachette; and Doubleday Ireland, an imprint of Transworld Ireland.

The UK and Ireland are well-represented, with eight out of the 13 writers on the longlist. Robin Robertson is from Scotland; Belinda Bauer, Guy Gunaratne and Daisy Johnson are from England; Anna Burns is from Northern Ireland; Sophie Mackintosh is from Wales. Sally Rooney and Donal Ryan are from Ireland. Two Canadians make the list, Esi Edugyan and Michael Ondaatje, along with three Americans, Nick Drnaso, Rachel Kushner and Richard Powers. 

Luke Ellis, CEO of Man Group, comments:

“The judges have worked incredibly hard to assemble this year’s longlist, which recognises exceptional literary talent and ranges from debut writers to established novelists. My colleagues and I at Man Group would like to congratulate each of the authors selected.”
 

The shortlist and winner announcements

The shortlist of six books will be announced on Thursday 20 September at a morning press conference at Man Group, the sponsor of the prize. The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book.

The 2018 winner will then be announced on Tuesday 16 October in London’s Guildhall at a black-tie dinner, one of the highlights of the publishing year. The ceremony will be broadcast by the BBC.

The winner of the 2018 Man Booker Prize receives £50,000 and can expect international recognition. In the week following the 2017 winner announcement, sales of Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders increased by 1227%. Bloomsbury has to date sold over 230k copies of Lincoln across all formats, 70% of those sales coming after the win.

Speaking to The Independent following his win, Saunders described the experience of having the Man Booker judges approve of his work as “empowering”. He went on to highlight the responsibility he felt to not waste the platform that an accolade of this stature will give him: “As opportunities present themselves to me because of this, I don’t want to misuse them in any way. I don’t want to squander it. I want to use it responsibly and intelligently”.
 

The leading prize for quality fiction in English

First awarded in 1969, the Man Booker Prize is recognised as the leading prize for literary fiction written in English. The list of former winners features many of the literary giants of the last four decades: from Iris Murdoch to Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan to Hilary Mantel.

The rules of the prize were changed at the end of 2013 to embrace the English language ‘in all its vigour, its vitality, its versatility and its glory’, opening it up to writers beyond the UK and Commonwealth.

The Man Booker Prize is sponsored by Man Group, an active investment management firm.
 

New partnership to get the nation reading

This year, the Man Booker Prize is partnering with the Swedish retailer IKEA to celebrate the 2018 longlist and launch an initiative to get the UK reading for relaxation. Research by IKEA has found that over 10% of Brits have not read a book in the last year, and nearly 13 million books are started but not finished. For information on how the public can be involved at the IKEA Reading Rooms in its Wembley store from Tuesday 31 July and Sunday 5 August, see here.

 

Longlisted books:  judges’ comments, synopses and author biographies

Snap, Belinda Bauer (Penguin Random House, Bantam Press)

Judges’ comment: “An acute, stylish, intelligent novel about how we survive trauma. Expertly paced, Snap offers a beautiful evocation of the lives of children, and how they perceive and manage tragedy. It undermines the tropes of its own genre, and leaves us with something that lingers.”

Synopsis: On a stifling summer's day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. Jack's in charge, she'd said. I won't be long.

But she doesn't come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed forever.

Three years later, Jack is still in charge – of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they're alone in the house, and - quite suddenly - of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother. . .

Belinda Bauer was born in Bromley, Kent, in 1962. She grew up in England and South Africa and now lives in Wales. She worked as a journalist and a screenwriter before finally writing a book to appease her nagging mother. With her debut, Blacklands (2009), Belinda was awarded the CWA Gold Dagger for Crime Novel of the Year. She went on to win the CWA Dagger in the Library for her body of work in 2013. Her fourth novel Rubbernecker was voted 2014 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Her books have been translated into 21 languages.

 

Milkman, Anna Burns (Faber & Faber)

Judges’ comment: “At turns frightening and inspirational, Milkman is stylistically utterly distinctive. At t the intersection of class, race, gender and sexual violence, it deals with oppression and power with a Beckettian sense of humour, offering a wholly original take on Ireland in the time of the Troubles through the mind of a young girl. Genuinely experimental, its ability to move from the scene of public life into the intimate landscape of the mind, sometimes in a single sentence, is stunning.”

Synopsis: In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes ‘interesting’. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous…

Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.

Anna Burns was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, 1962. She is the author of two novels, No Bones and Little Constructions, and of the novella, Mostly Hero. In 2001 she won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize, and was shortlisted for the 2002 Orange Prize for Fiction. She lives in East Sussex, England.

Sabrina, Nick Drnaso (Granta, Granta Books)

Judges’ comment: “Given the changing shape of fiction, it was only a matter of time before a graphic novel was included on the Man Booker longlist. Sabrina makes demands on the reader in precisely the way all good fiction does. Oblique, subtle, minimal, unmanipulative: the style of the pictures is the book’s worldview. Drnaso uses images to express an idea about what’s invisible – an idea about uncertainty, and the different kinds of holes that missing people leave in our lives.”

Synopsis: Where is Sabrina?

The answer is hidden on a videotape, a tape which is en route to several news outlets, and about to go viral.

Sabrina is the story of what happens when an intimate, ‘everyday’ tragedy collides with the appetites of the 24-hour news cycle; when somebody’s lived trauma becomes another person’s gossip; when it becomes fodder for social media, fake news, conspiracy theorists, maniacs, the bored.

Nick Drnaso was born in Palos Hills, Illinois, in 1989. He is the winner of the Prix Révélation at Angoulême 2018. He has contributed to several comics anthologies and has been nominated for three Ignatz Awards. His debut graphic novel, Beverly, received the LA Times Book Prize for Best Graphic Novel. He lives and works as a cartoonist and illustrator in Chicago, USA.

 

Washington Black, Esi Edugyan (Profile Books, Serpent’s Tail)

Judges’ comment: “A dazzling exploration of race in the Atlantic world, which also manages to be a yarn and a chase story. A book of extraordinary political and racial scope, Washington Black is wonderfully written, extremely imaginative, profoundly engaging and filled with an empathetic understanding of characters who are uprooted from places they knew and required to make adjustments in worlds they could barely have dreamt of. It manages to keep you on the edge of your seat, while making you, as a reader, want to savour every moment.”

Synopsis: Escape is only the beginning. From the brutal cane plantations of Barbados to the icy wastes of the Canadian Arctic, from the mud-filled streets of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black is the tale – inspired by a true story – of a world destroyed and the search to make it whole again.

When two English brothers take the helm of a Barbados sugar plantation, Washington Black – an eleven year-old field slave – finds himself selected as personal servant to one of these men. The eccentric Christopher ‘Titch’ Wilde is a naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor and abolitionist, whose single-minded pursuit of the perfect aerial machine mystifies all around him.

Titch’s idealistic plans are soon shattered and Washington finds himself in mortal danger. They escape the island together, but then Titch disappears and Washington must make his way alone, following the promise of freedom further than he ever dreamed possible.

Esi Edugyan was born in Calgary, Canada, in 1977. Her novel Half Blood Blues won the Scotiabank Giller Prize, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and was a finalist for the Governor-General's Literary Award, the Rogers Writers' Trust Prize and the Orange Prize. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

 

In Our Mad and Furious City, Guy Gunaratne (Headline, Tinder Press)

Judges’ comment: “An ambitious mosaic of virtuosic ventriloquism, Guy Gunaratne’s book is an inner city novel for our times, exploring the endurance of social trauma across generations, and conveying the agony and energy of the marginalised, the outsider, and the oppressed. Both a social panorama and a thriller, it contains a vibrant energy and some extraordinary plot twists that go against what might be our cultural expectations. Gunaratne gracefully moves the large and small ambitions of his characters on an expressionist chessboard of a council estate.”

Synopsis: For Selvon, Ardan and Yusuf, growing up under the towers of Stones Estate, summer means what it does anywhere: football, music, freedom. But now, after the killing of a British soldier, riots are spreading across the city, and nowhere is safe.

While the fury swirls around them, Selvon and Ardan remain focused on their own obsessions, girls and grime. Their friend Yusuf is caught up in a different tide, a wave of radicalism surging through his local mosque, threatening to carry his troubled brother, Irfan, with it.

Guy Gunaratne was born in London, UK, in 1984. He grew up in North West London and has worked as a designer, documentary filmmaker and video journalist covering post-conflict areas around the world, as well as co-founding two technology companies. He was shortlisted for the 4th Estate/Guardian Books BAME Short Story Prize.
 

Everything Under, Daisy Johnson (Vintage, Jonathan Cape)

Judges’ comment: “A hypnotic, mythic, unexpected story from a beguiling new voice. Everything Under is an exploration of family, gender, the ways we understand each other and the hands we hold out to each other – a story that’s like the waterways at its heart: you have to take the trip to understand what’s underneath.”

Synopsis: Words are important to Gretel, always have been. As a child, she lived on a canal boat with her mother, and together they invented a language that was just their own. She hasn't seen her mother since the age of sixteen, though – almost a lifetime ago – and those memories have faded.

Now Gretel works as a lexicographer, updating dictionary entries, which suits her solitary nature. A phone call from the hospital interrupts Gretel's isolation and throws up questions from long ago. She begins to remember the private vocabulary of her childhood. She remembers other things, too: the wild years spent on the river; the strange, lonely boy who came to stay on the boat one winter; and the creature in the water – a canal thief? – swimming upstream, getting ever closer. In the end there will be nothing for Gretel to do but go back.

Daisy Johnson was born in Paignton, UK, in 1990. Her debut short story collection, Fen, was published in 2016. She is the winner of the Harper’s Bazaar Short Story Prize, the A.M. Heath prize and the Edge Hill Short Story Prize. She currently lives in Oxford by the river.
 

The Mars Room, Rachel Kushner (Vintage, Jonathan Cape)

Judges’ comment: “A novel about gender, class and the absolute corruption of the American dream, The Mars Room explores the meaning of incarceration in our moment. Breezy, hardened, bleakly comic, it contains wonderfully rich dramatis personae and an extraordinary sensory vividness. It feels terrifyingly authentic.”

Synsopsis: Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences, plus six years, at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility. Outside is the world from which she has been permanently severed: the San Francisco of her youth, changed almost beyond recognition. The Mars Room strip club where she once gave lap dances for a living. And her seven-year-old son, Jackson, now in the care of Romy’s estranged mother.

Inside is a new reality to adapt to: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive. The deadpan absurdities of institutional living, daily acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike, allegiances formed over liquor brewed in socks and stories shared through sewage pipes.

Romy sees the future stretch out ahead of her in a long, unwavering line – until news from outside brings a ferocious urgency to her existence, challenging her to escape her own destiny. The Mars Room presents not just a bold and unsentimental panorama of life on the margins of contemporary America, but an excoriating attack on the prison-industrial complex.

Rachel Kushner was born in Oregon, USA, in 1968. Her debut novel, Telex from Cuba, was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and a New York Times bestseller. Her follow-up novel, The Flamethrowers, was also a finalist for the National Book Award and received rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. Her fiction has appeared in the New Yorker, Harper’s and the Paris Review. She lives in Los Angeles.

 

The Water Cure, Sophie Mackintosh (Penguin Random House, Hamish Hamilton)

Judges’ comment: “This chilling, beautifully written novel explores the ways in which extreme parental protection can fail, and unpicks patriarchy at its core, forcing us to ask what it means to survive, indeed whether it is possible to survive, in a man’s  world. Allegorical and plausible, the tautness and tension of the writing are staggering.”

Synopsis: Imagine a world very close to our own: where women are not safe in their bodies, where desperate measures are required to raise a daughter. This is the story of Grace, Lia and Sky, kept apart from the world for their own good and taught the terrible things that every woman must learn about love. And it is the story of the men who come to find them – three strangers washed up by the sea, their gazes hungry and insistent, trailing desire and destruction in their wake.

The Water Cure is a fever dream, a blazing vision of suffering, sisterhood and transformation. Sophie Mackintosh brings us face to face with the brutality of love, demanding to know the price of survival in a hostile world.

Sophie Mackintosh was born in South Wales in 1988. She won the 2016 White Review Short Story Prize and the 2016 Virago/Stylist Short Story competition, and has been published in Granta magazine and TANK magazine among others. The Water Cure is her debut novel.

 

Warlight, Michael Ondaatje (Vintage, Jonathan Cape)

Judges’ comment: “Wonderfully atmospheric, beautifully paced, subtle storytelling. Warlight contains an incredible array of characters through whom Ondaatje tells the hidden, barely spoken, tale of war, especially as it impacts on children. Ondaatje skilfully moves back and forth through time, finally offering an extraordinary narrative twist that feels as earned as it is unexpected.”

Synopsis: It is 1945, and London is still reeling from the Blitz and years of war. 14-year-old Nathaniel and his sister, Rachel, are apparently abandoned by their parents, left in the care of an enigmatic figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and grow both more convinced and less concerned as they get to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women with a shared history, all of whom seem determined now to protect, and educate (in rather unusual ways) Rachel and Nathaniel. But are they really what and who they claim to be? A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all he didn’t know or understand in that time, and it is this journey – through reality, recollection, and imagination – that is told in this magnificent novel.

Michael Ondaatje was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in 1943. He is the author of several novels, as well as a memoir, a nonfiction book on film, and several books of poetry. Among his many Canadian and international recognitions, his novel The English Patient won the Booker Prize in 1992 and the Golden Man Booker Prize in 2018, and was adapted into a multi-Academy Award-winning movie; and Anil’s Ghost won the Giller Prize, the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, and the Prix Médicis. Michael Ondaatje lives in Toronto.

 

The Overstory, Richard Powers (Penguin Random House, William Heinemann)

Judges’ comment: “An ecological epic, a novel of ideas, The Overstory begins with five apparently distinct narratives and then binds them into a compelling network of connections. In this book about how we are destroying and saving our trees, the form reflects the subject, as disparate strands come together to form a canopy. Powers has managed to write a novel in which human responsibility is embedded in the most intimate, private, details of a lived life.”

Synopsis: Nine strangers, each in different ways, become summoned by trees, brought together in a last stand to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest.

The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fable, ranging from antebellum New York to the late-twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond, revealing a world alongside our own – vast, slow, resourceful, magnificently inventive and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world, and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.

Richard Powers was born in Illinois, USA, in 1957. He is the author of twelve novels, including Orfeo (which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2014), The Echo Maker, The Time of Our Singing, Galatea 2.2 and Plowing the Dark. He is the recipient of a MacArthur grant and the National Book Award, and has been a Pulitzer Prize and four-time National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. He lives in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.

 

The Long Take, Robin Robertson (Pan Macmillan, Picador )

Judges’ comment: The Long Take is like a film noir on the page. A book about a man and a city in shock, it’s an extraordinary evocation of the debris and the ongoing destruction of war even in times of peace. In taking a scenario we think we know from the movies but offering a completely different perspective, Robin Robertson shows the flexibility a poet can bring to form and style.”

Synopsis: Walker is a D-Day veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder; he can’t return home to rural Nova Scotia, and looks instead to the city for freedom, anonymity and repair. As he moves from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco we witness a crucial period of fracture in American history, one that also allowed film noir to flourish. The Dream had gone sour but – as those dark, classic movies made clear – the country needed outsiders to study and dramatise its new anxieties.

While Walker tries to piece his life together, America is beginning to come apart: deeply paranoid, doubting its own certainties, riven by social and racial division, spiralling corruption and the collapse of the inner cities. The Long Take is about a good man, brutalised by war, haunted by violence and apparently doomed to return to it – yet resolved to find kindness again, in the world and in himself.

Robin Robertson was born in Perthshire, Scotland, in 1955. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he has published five collections of poetry and has received a number of honours, including the Petrarca-Preis, the E.M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and all three Forward Prizes. His selected poems, Sailing the Forest, was published in 2014 and The Long Take was published in February 2018. Robin Robertson lives in London.

 

Normal People, Sally Rooney (Faber & Faber)

Judges’ comment: “A very intimate character study of two young people trying to figure out how to love each other, Normal People is written in compressed, composed, allusive prose that invites you read behind the lines. So much in it is shown and not told. Grounded in the everyday, it transforms what might have been a flimsy subject into something that demands a lot of the reader.”

Synopsis: In school Connell and Marianne affect not to know each other. People know that Marianne lives in the white mansion with the driveway and that Connell’s mother is a cleaner, but no one knows of the special relationship between these facts. Despite these social tangles, a connection grows between them and when they both get places to study at Trinity College in Dublin it lasts long into the following years.

Normal People is a love story about how a person can change another person’s life – a simple yet profound realisation that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel. It tells us how difficult it is to talk about how we feel and it tells us – blazingly – about cycles of domination, legitimacy and privilege.

Sally Rooney was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1991. She is the youngest ever winner of the Sunday Times PFD Young Writer of the Year Award. Her first novel Conversations with Friends was a Sunday Times, Guardian, Observer, Daily Telegraph and Evening Standard Book of the Year, receiving the most mentions in the end of year round-ups for a debut book from 2017. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Granta, The White Review, The Dublin Review  and The Stinging Fly, among other publications. Conversations with Friends has been shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Folio Prize, Debut Book of the Year at the British Book Awards, Bord Gais Irish Energy Awards – Newcomer, Books Are My Bag Readers Choice Award 2017 and longlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize and Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year. In 2017 she was shortlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award. She is the editor of The Stinging Fly magazine. She lives in Dublin.

 

From a Low and Quiet Sea, Donal Ryan (Transworld Ireland, Doubleday Ireland)

Judges’ comment: “A portrait of three men in one landscape, From A Low and Quiet Sea holds its narratives in perfectly sustained equilibrium, then brings them together without cliché. A deft, unshowy novel about manhood and momentous contingency, it evokes the way in which real lives unfold and wrap around each other.”

Synopsis: Farouk's country has been torn apart by war.

Lampy's heart has been laid waste by Chloe.

John's past torments him as he nears his end.

The refugee. The dreamer. The penitent. From war-torn Syria to small-town Ireland, three men, scarred by all they have loved and lost, are searching for some version of home. Each is drawn towards a powerful reckoning, one that will bring them together in the most unexpected of ways.

Donal Ryan was born in Tipperary, Ireland, in 1976. He is the award-winning author of four novels and one short story collection. A former civil servant, Ryan lectures in Creative Writing at the University of Limerick. He lives with his wife Anne Marie and their two children.