The recently announced long list for one of the year’s most prestigious literary prizes proves again that the quality and diversity in fiction writing continues. From the thirteen novels chosen from a total of 138 submitted, the short list will be reduced to six novels, and will be announced on 6th September, with the winner from the short list announced in October. One author on the long list, Alan Hollinghurst, previously won the prize in 2004 for Line of Beauty, he was also short listed in 1994 for The Folding Star. Sebastian Barry, Carol Birch and Julian Barnes have also had novels selected for previous long and shorts lists. The complete long list can be found at Mann Booker Prize.
From this year’s long list we have selected three debut novelists and three Canadian novelists to highlight. Their novels are skilfully written, with vastly different themes, but all are exceptional reads.
The Sisters brothers / Patrick deWitt.
“PatricK deWitt was born on Vancouver Island in 1975. He now lives in Oregon, and is author of one previous novel. “The Sisters brothers, is set during the gold rush years of the 1850s, begins as a gritty, unapologetic homage to pulp Westerns. The protagonists are two brothers, Eli and Charlie Sisters, widely known for their brutality. They are sent from Oregon City to California to kill an enemy of their boss, the mysterious Commodore. In the final pages, however, as the hired guns at the center of the story are forced by circumstances to rethink their lives, the novel turns into something much more philosophical, existential, and extraordinary. A very funny, thought provoking novel.”
(adapted for Syndetics summary)
Half blood blues.Esi Edugyan lives in Victoria, British Columbia. Her work has appeared in several anthologies. The Second Life of Samuel Tyne was her first novel published in 2004. “Half-blood Blues begins with the aftermath of the fall of Paris, 1940. Hieronymous Falk, a brilliant young trumpet player was arrested in a cafe and never heard from again. He was twenty years old. He was a German citizen. And he was black. Fifty years later, Sid, Hiero’s bandmate and the only witness that day, is going back to Berlin. Persuaded by his old friend Chip, Sid discovers there’s more to the journey than he thought when Chip shares a mysterious letter, bringing to the surface secrets buried since Hiero’s fate was settled.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)
Cupboard full of coats / Yvvette Edwards.
Yvvette Edwards grew up and still lives in East London were this her debut novel is set. It is a searing story of family, jealousy, and tragic betrayal. Fourteen years ago Jinx’s mother was brutally murdered. When Lemon, an old family friend, turns up Jinx is forced to confront her past. But Lemon has his own secrets, and together they unravel an unforgettable family drama.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Pigeon English / Stephen Kelman.
This is Stephen Kelman’s debut novel. He began writing seriously in 2005, with several screenplays. He lives in London. “Ten-year-old Harrison Opuku has recently immigrated to London from Ghana. Harri is a joyous child who loves everyone. Less easy to like, let alone love, are the members of the Dell Farm Crew, a local gang whose threats make every school day a challenge. When a classmate is murdered, Harri and his friend decide to discover the killer. As this charming boy gets closer to a solution, readers will feel their adrenaline start pumping, hoping Harri will succeed and remain safe.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Snowdrops / A.D. Miller.
Andrew Miller was born in London in 1974 where he lives now. He began working as a television producer. He joined the Economist magazine and became their Moscow correspondent from 2004 to 2007. This is his first novel. ”Written as a man’s confession to the woman he’s going to marry, Snowdrops chronicles British lawyer Nicholas Platt’s dubious dealings in Moscow at the turn of the twenty-first century. Nick’s descent begins with what seems to be an innocuous meeting with two beautiful Russian sisters, Masha and Katya, whom he saves from a purse-snatcher. He’s immediately drawn to the sensual, remote Masha, who soon becomes his lover. Nick doesn’t think anything of it when Masha and Katya take him to meet their Aunt Tatiana, and Masha’s request that he help Tatiana broker a deal to exchange her Moscow apartment for one out in the country seems simple enough. As Nick, guided by Masha, helps Tatiana hammer out the details of the apartment exchange, little inconsistencies nag at him, but his lust for Masha and thought that she might be the one for him cause him to push aside his worries.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Far to go / Alison Pick.
Alison Pick was born in 1975 in Toronto, where she still lives. Her first book of poetry was published in 2002, and since then she has had another volume of poetry and one other novel published. “The main story here begins in September 1938 in the Sudetenland, the ethnically German part of Czechoslovakia that would be annexed by Hitler on October 1 of that year. The Bauer family, small businessman Pavel; his wife, Anneliese; their son, Pepik; and Pepik’s nurse, Marta lives outside the capital. Movingly told from the perspective of loyal Marta, the disintegration of the Bauers’ world in the face of Hitler’s onslaught is completed when they pay a bribe to put Pepik on a train, the Kindertransport, to Scotland. A second story is told through chapter spacers that consist of the latter-day writings of a Holocaust researcher and letters by characters in the main story as well as the chilling listing of the dates of the writers’ deaths at the hands of the Nazis. The researcher has collected oral histories of Kindertransport children like Pepik, along with letters and documents. The two stories merge when the researcher gives Pepik his file.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)