The Man Booker Prize Longlist 2012 has been announced, and it contains a few surprises. Hilary Mantel, Will Self, Michael Frayn and Malaysian author Tan Twan Eng, are on it, but there's no place for Zadie Smith, Martin Amis, or previous winners John Banville or Ian McEwan.
The list contains four debut novels, and only one previous winner, Hilary Mantel, whose book "Bringing up the Bodies" is a sequel to the Booker-winning "Wolf Hall." Small publishers And Other Stories, Salt and Myrmidon are represented, while the big publishing winner is Fourth Estate, with three books on the list. The author Michael Frayn, who has previously been shortlisted for the award, is another notable inclusion.
There are also no Canadian authors on this year's list; nine are British, one is Indian, one is South African and one Malaysian. The oldest (André Brink) is 77 years old, the youngest (Ned Beauman) is 27.
According to a statement issued by jury chairman Peter Stothard, "We did not set out to reject the old guard but, after a year of sustained critical argument by a demanding panel of judges, the new has come powering through."
The Man Booker Prize, whose name includes the title of its principle sponsor alternative investment management company Man, is one of the best-known prizes in English language publishing. Open only to citizens of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland, the jury, which changes each year, is usually made up of a mixture of book industry people and others including actors and politicians.
This year's jury, chaired by the editor of the Times Literary Supplement, includes Dan Stevens, an actor from popular TV show "Downton Abbey."
The Prize was founded in 1969, and though winners receive £50,000 ($77,500), perhaps more importantly their book receives a huge amount of press and bookstore coverage. Last year's winner, "The Sense of an Ending" by Julian Barnes, became a bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic. According to the Booker Prize website, 147 books were submitted by publishers for the award this year, up from last year's 138.
The prize receives huge media scrutiny; last year's shortlist was highly criticized for being more "readable" than containing "artistic quality." As a result, The Guardian created "Not The Booker Prize" to reward books seen as having a greater literary merit.
This year's longlist is below. The titles will be reduced to a shortlist of six titles, announced on September 11th, with the winner announced at a gala dinner on October 16th. Who do you think should win?
"The Garden of Evening Mists" by Tan Twan Eng (Myrmidon Books)
Yun Ling Teoh is the survivor of a Japanese wartime camp, so she's understandably disgruntled towards the people of that nation. Still, she becomes the apprentice of an exiled Japanese gardener, in hopes that she can build a garden to commemorate her deceased sister in Kuala Lumpur.
"Philida" by André Brink (Harvill Secker)
It's the 1830s in South Africa, and slavery is on the brink of abolition. Philida struggles to find freedom as she mothers her four children--the offspring of her master's son.
"The Yips" by Nicola Barker (Fourth Estate)
Described as a "historical novel of the pre-Twitter movement," this book is humorous and over-the-top.
"The Teleportation Accident" by Ned Beauman (Sceptre)
It's 1930s Berlin, and yet all Egon Loeser can think about is getting himself laid in this historical noir.
"Skios: A Novel" by Michael Frayn (Faber & Faber)
Frayn has penchant for farce, and this book about the absurdity of ambitious academics is no exception.
"The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" by Rachel Joyce (Doubleday)
A drab, ordinary man receives a mysterious letter from a woman he hasn't heard from in decades, and his trek to visit her revitalizes his marriage.
"Swimming Home" by Deborah Levy (And Other Stories)
This book explores the depressed state of a group of stately tourists visiting the French Riviera, but does so in a light, funny manner. The introduction to this book is by Tom McCarthy, the acclaimed author of "C."
"Bring up the Bodies" by Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate)
This is the sequel to Mantel's 2009 Booker winner "Wolf Hall." Both books chronicle the pitfalls of Anne Boleyn.
"Umbrella" by Will Self (Bloomsbury)
Zack Busner is a psychiatrist treating victims of a post-World War I sleeping sickness epidemic -- but is the disease biological or the result of the pressures of modernity?
"The Lighthouse" by Alison Moore (Salt)
A middle-aged man takes a trip to Germany but finds the hotel staff to be less than accommodating as he contemplates his mother's abandonment while embarking on a walking tour.
"Communion Town" by Sam Thompson (Fourth Estate)
The book tells the story of a single city from the vantage point of ten of its citizens, from butchers to musicians.
"Narcopolis" by Jeet Thayil (Faber & Faber)
Set in a brothel in 1970s Bombay, this book illustrates the addictions and perversions of human trafficking in India, contrasted with the beauty and hope found in films and churches.