The shortlist for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2013 has been revealed.
Shortlisted are: NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names (Chatto), Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries (Granta), Jim Crace’s Harvest (Picador), Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland (Bloomsbury), Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being (Canongate) and Colm Toibin’s The Testament of Mary (Viking).
Two writers have previously been shortlisted: Jim Crace in 1997 for Quarantine, and Colm Tóibín for The Blackwater Lightship in 1999 and in 2004 with The Master. Catton, who will be 28 by the date of the winner announcement, is the youngest on the shortlist.
Chair of judges Robert Macfarlane told this morning’s press conference: “We looked for books that sought to extend the power and possibility of the form. THis is in keeping with the history of the novel. We wanted novel novels.” He added: “The judging process has been more UN than Dodge City. Our tools were evidence, advocacy and debate.”
Jon Howells, Waterstones spokesperson, commented: “With a multicultural shortlist dominated by women I think the bookies [who have backed Jim Crace’s Harvest] may be wrong this time. It’s five years since the last ‘surprise’ winner – The White Tiger – and I think this shortlist gives the judges a lot of options. The question of ‘what is a novel?’ is raised again with Colm Toibin’s The Testament of Mary – at 101 pages it makes Julian Barnes’ 160 page The Sense of an Ending look, if not like War and Peace, then at least Crime and Punishment.
“This is an impossibly tough year to call, but I will be placing a small bet on Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being: I think it shares some of the spirit of Life of Pi that was such a memorable winner in 2002, and I think it might be time for another surprise.”
Jonathan Ruppin, web editor at Foyles, said: “I genuinely think – everybody always says it is a diverse shortlist – but I think it is genuinely true this year. There are a lot of commercial titles in it, I think there is something in this shortlist for everybody. There is no Hilary Mantel to take away all of the headlines, but if anyone other than Jim Crace or Eleanor Catton wins it, I will be absolutely staggered. Those are two outstanding novels that would have been a contender for any year of the Man Booker.”
The Bookseller’s fiction previewer Cathy Rentzenbrink commented that it was a “very exciting” shortlist, saying: “Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries and Jim Crace’s Harvest seem to be very clearly fancied, and considered particularly exceptional. I’d also say that Nao, a character who features in Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, is the most compelling character I’ve come across all year.”
The shortlisted authors all win £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book, while the winner of the Man Booker Prize—to be announced on 15th October—will receive a further £50,000.
The judging panel comprises chair Robert Macfarlane, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Natalie Haynes, Martha Kearney and Stuart Kelly.