Coetzee and New Faces on the Man Booker Prize Longlist

In News by Dennis Abrams

With the shortlist to be announced September 13, the Man Booker Prize ‘Dozen’ is marked, judges say, by writing that is ‘uniformly fresh, energetic and important.’
Images provided by Man Booker Prize

Images provided by Man Booker Prize

This year’s 13-author longlist for the Man Booker includes six women writers as well as four debut novelists. Also of note: A.L. Kennedy, published in the UK by Jonathan Cape, is published in the States by Amazon Publishing’s Little A imprint, the first time an “APub” book has been longlisted.  — Porter Anderson

By Dennis Abrams | @DennisAbrams2

‘A Longlist to be Relished’
The longlist for the £50,000 (US$65,000) Man Booker Prize this year features 13 books selected from 155 submissions published between October 1, 2015, and September 30, 2016.

First awarded in 1969, the Man Booker Prize for Fiction is in its third year now of being open to writers of any nationality whose works were written originally in English and published in the UK.

J.M. Coetzee

J.M. Coetzee

Among the highlights of this year’s list pointed out by the prize’s administration:

  • Already a two-time winner, the 76-year-old J.M. Coetzee (1983, 1999) makes the list for a third time—his The Schooldays of Jesus publishes in September;
  • There are four debuts on the list; and
  • Five UK and five US authors are longlisted, as are three Commonwealth authors

The 2016 longlist of 13 novels, known as the “Man Booker Dozen,” comprises:

Paul Beatty (US) – The Sellout (Oneworld)
J.M. Coetzee (South African-Australian) – The Schooldays of Jesus (Harvill Secker)
A.L. Kennedy (UK) – Serious Sweet (Jonathan Cape)
Deborah Levy (UK) – Hot Milk (Hamish Hamilton)
Graeme Macrae Burnet (UK) – His Bloody Project (Contraband)
Ian McGuire (UK) – The North Water (Scribner UK)
David Means (US) – Hystopia (Faber & Faber)
Wyl Menmuir (UK) – The Many (Salt)
Ottessa Moshfegh (US) – Eileen (Jonathan Cape)
Virginia Reeves (US) – Work Like Any Other (Scribner UK)
Elizabeth Strout (US) – My Name Is Lucy Barton (Viking)
David Szalay (Canada-UK) – All That Man Is (Jonathan Cape)
Madeleine Thien (Canada) – Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Granta Books)

The chair of the five-person 2016 judges’ panel, Amanda Foreman, is quoted in the prize news release as saying, “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.”

Man Booker squarePublishers of all sizes are represented on the list, with six titles from Penguin Random House imprints (Harvill Secker, Jonathan Cape, Hamish Hamilton, Viking); two from Simon & Schuster’s Scribner UK imprint; and five from independent publishers, including Saraband, Faber & Faber, Salt, Granta and Oneworld. Oneworld celebrated its first Man Booker success last year, when Marlon James won the prize with A Brief History of Seven Killings.

In its writeup, carried here by The New York Times, the Associate Press notes that big-name writers such as Don DeLillo and Ian McEwan seem to have been passed over this year in favor of fresher voices.

At The Bookseller, Benedicte Page writes that the bookstore community in the UK seems largely chuffed by the selection of longlisters, characterizing the slate as “wide open” as to who might win. Waterstones fiction buyer Chris White tells her the longlist “feels fresh and full of gems waiting to be discovered.”

The shortlist of six books is to be announced on September 13. The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book.

The 2016 winner will then be announced on October 25 at London’s Guildhall in a black-tie dinner, one of the highlights of the publishing year. The ceremony is to be broadcast by the BBC.

As the prize’s press materials say, the winner of the 2016 Man Booker Prize will receive the additional purse of £50,000 and can expect international recognition. Last year’s winning novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James, has sold more than 315,000 copies to date in the UK and Commonwealth and is available in 20 languages. In addition, HBO has optioned screen rights to the novel for a series adaptation.

On winning, James commented: “I just met Ben Okri and it just reminded me of how much my literary sensibilities were shaped by the Man Booker Prize.”

The Man Booker Prize is sponsored by Man Group, one of the world’s largest independent alternative investment managers.

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.