Thursday, July 25, 2013

Man Booker 2013: this longlist is an incitement to read

This Man Booker 2013 longlist is dominated by epic tales that criss-cross the globe, says Sameer Rahim.

The novelist NoViolet Bulawayo, one of the 13 authors nominated for the Man Booker 2013 prize

The novelist NoViolet Bulawayo, one of the 13 authors nominated for the Man Booker 2013 prize Photo: James Manyika
On these terms the 2013 list succeeds amply. Some will regret the absence of former winners such as Margaret Atwood (for MaddAdam) or JM Coetzee (The Childhood of Jesus); a couple, such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and David Peace, whose epic novel about Bill Shankly Red or Dead is reviewed this Saturday in the Telegraph, will likewise be missed by their advocates. But there are plenty of familiar names to discount accusations of felling tall poppies – and some less well-known ones worth picking up.
Globalisation and our connected world is a running theme. Tash Aw’s Five Star Billionaire follows a group of Malaysian immigrants – but rather than travelling to America, as they might have done in the past, they go to the mega-city of Shanghai. In NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names, characters in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe dream of leaving the country, while Colum McCann’s TransAtlantic describes the Irish émigré experience across two centuries. Similarly epic is Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland, which tells the story of two brothers from Calcutta in post-war India, taking in Vietnam and the Naxalite rebellions. The New Yorker has published an extract.
Robert Macfarlane, the chair of the judges, told me that these books feel like they’re “pushing their own boundaries and squaring up to the present day,” encompassing “money, global finance and environmental disaster.” Twenty seven-year-old Eleanor Catton, whose experimental first novel The Rehearsal split the critics, returns with The Luminaries, an 800-page book about a 19th-century gold prospector in New Zealand. The environmental theme is taken up in Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, about a suicidal Japanese girl caught up in a tsunami.

While over at The Independent:
In for The Kills: multimedia novel makes the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2013 longlist
But surprise as established authors Atwood, Coetzee, Doyle and Peace are absent

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