Pulitzer-winner Jhumpa Lahiri is among the 13 writers longlisted for this year’s £50,000 Man Booker Prize described by judges as “the most diverse’’ selection in many years.
Ms. Lahiri, whose debut novel The Namesake was made into a critically acclaimed film by eminent director Mira Nair, has been chosen for her much-anticipated new novel The Lowland. Set in India and America, it is said to be a “poignant’’ and “deeply-felt’’ novel about family ties, grief and dislocation.
For the first time, a multimedia novel has been included while some of the biggest literary names such as Margaret Atwood and J.M. Coetzee have been left out. Richard House’s The Kills, hailed as a “groundbreaking’’ work that “stretches off the page’’ , was first published digitally.
The list is also unique for including a novel that is so brief that it has prompted questions whether it should be regarded as a novel at all. Colm Toibin’s The Testament of Mary runs barely a little over 100 pages but judges insisted that it was the quality of writing, not the length, which mattered.
“The prize rules ask us to choose a novel that is unified and substantial and that’s what we thought the Toibin (novel) was,” said the chair of judges Robert Macfarlane.
Responding to criticism that the list was rather “light-weight’’ with preponderance of little-known writers, he said there was "no policy of giant killing or sacred cow slaughter’’.
“It was a year in which unusually few former winners and shortlistees were published,’’ he said adding that Atwood and Coetzee were “discussed but just didn’t make the longlist’’.
Literary agent Jonny Geller described the list as “full of life, vibrancy and different worlds’’.
“The absence of some big names is not the point; the inclusion of new ones is what is exciting,” he said.
There are three first-time novelists on the list NoViolet Bulawayo (We Need New Names); Eve Harris’(The Marrying of Chani Kaufman); and Donal Ryan ( The Spinning Heart).
Others include Tash Aw, (Five Star Billionaire); Eleanor Catton (The Luminaries ); Jim Crace (Harvest); Alison MacLeod (Unexploded); Colum McCann (TransAtlantic ); Charlotte Mendelson ( Almost English); and Ruth Ozeki, (A Tale for the Time Being).