I’m pretty sure that last year I decided that no one really cares about the Man Booker Prize, but I still can’t help being intrigued as to what’s made the list.
Following last year’s controversy when it was announced that the prize was being opened up to International authors (with UK Publisher) after 46 years, it seems the longlist is not quite as overrun by American authors as some feared, although they do make up a third of the entries.
The most interesting thing about the nominees this year though, I think, is that one of the novels was funded entirely by its readers. The Wake, by Paul Kingsnorth is the first crowdfunded novel to ever be nominated for such a prestigious literary prize. And I must say, it sounds like one of the more interesting reads on the list.
Everyone knows the date of the Battle of Hastings. Far fewer people know what happened next…Set in the three years after the Norman invasion, The Wake tells the story of a fractured band of guerilla fighters who take up arms against the invaders. Carefully hung on the known historical facts about the almost forgotten war of resistance that spread across England in the decade after 1066, it is a story of the brutal shattering of lives, a tale of lost gods and haunted visions, narrated by a man of the Lincolnshire fens bearing witness to the end of his world. Written in what the author describes as ‘a shadow tongue’ – a version of Old English updated so as to be understandable for the modern reader – The Wake renders the inner life of an Anglo-Saxon man with an accuracy and immediacy rare in historical fiction. To enter Buccmaster’s world is to feel powerfully the sheer strangeness of the past.
The Longlist in Full
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)
The Shortlist will be announced 9th Sept