This year's Booker Prize contenders announced

By Nick Clark

Booker Prize longlist includes novel funded by internet readers
Last year's Man Booker winner Eleanor Catton.
Last year's Man Booker winner Eleanor Catton.

A novel funded directly by its readers has been nominated for the Man Booker prize - a first for the literary award in a landmark year that sees four Americans in contention after a change to eligibility rules.

The prize was won last year by New Zealand novelist Eleanor Catton for The Luminaries. No works by NZ authors made the longlist this year.

The inclusion in the list of Paul Kingsnorth's The Wake has caused a stir because it is published by Unbound, a "crowdfunding" company which raises money directly from readers.

Kingsnorth said: "The thing about The Wake is this: its publication was a collaboration between its readers, Unbound and me, the author. That's special."

This year, the £50,000 Man Booker was opened up to overseas writers for the first time in its 46-year history, sparking fears that the event would be dominated by US authors.

But A.C. Grayling, the chairman of the judges, said the issue "did not loom large over the panel".

"Our guiding principal was merit," he added. "We didn't ask about the nationality or gender. There was no question of tokenism."

Of the longlisted authors, Joshua Ferris, Karen Joy Fowler, Siri Hustvedt and Richard Powers would not have been eligible under the old rules. There are six British entrants on the longlist.

"This shows the fears of the Americans sweeping all before them was unfounded," Professor Grayling said. "We have got excellent people writing all round the Commonwealth."

Johnny de Falbe, of the London independent bookshop John Sandoe, said: "Frankly, it is surprising there aren't more Americans on [the longlist]. It perhaps reflects a year in which there have been very few big American novels."

THE NOMINEES


Click on titles to read Herald reviews of the books where available


Joshua Ferris (US)

To Rise Again At A Decent Hour

The 39-year-old makes the Man Booker list with his third novel, about midlife crisis and the struggle for meaning in everyday life.


Richard Flanagan (Australia)

The Narrow Road To The Deep North

The Tasmanian, born in 1961, is nominated for his book about prisoners-of-war on the Burma railway.


Karen Joy Fowler (US)

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

The 64-year-old won the US$15,000 PEN/Faulkner award for fiction this year for her book about a 1970s family torn apart by a behavioural psychology experiment.


Siri Hustvedt (US)

The Blazing World

Hustvedt, 59, has written six novels including The Enchantment of Lily Dahl and What I Loved, and is married to fellow writer Paul Auster.


Howard Jacobson (UK)

J

Jacobson won the Booker in 2010 for The Finkler Question. His publisher, Random House, says J is a love story set in a brutal future where the past is never talked about.


Paul Kingsnorth (UK)

The Wake

Kingsnorth's wildcard is the first crowdsourced work up for the Booker. It is described as a "post-apocalyptic novel set 1,000 years in the past".


David Mitchell (UK)

The Bone Clocks

The 45-year-old was shortlisted for number9dream in 2001 and Cloud Atlas three years later.


Neel Mukherjee (UK)

The Lives Of Others

Mukerjee's second novel, following the success of 2010's A Life Apart, is set in Calcutta in 1967 and tells the story of Supratik, who becomes involved with extremist political activity.


David Nicholls (UK)

Us

Nicholls studied acting before becoming a TV writer. Us follows Douglas Peterson who is striving to win back the love of his wife of 21 years and repair the relationship with his son.


Joseph O'Neill (Ireland/US)

The Dog

The former barrister turned novelist, born in Cork in 1964 but now based in New York, won the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for Netherland. The Dog is a tale of alienation and heartbreak in Dubai.


Richard Powers (US)

Orfeo

The Independent's reviewer described Orfeo as the "best novel about classical music that I've read since Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus". It is the 57-year-old's 11th book, inspired by the Orpheus myth.


Ali Smith (UK)

How To Be Both

Born in 1962 in Inverness, Smith was previously shortlisted for the Man Booker for Hotel World and The Accidental. How To Be Both is a novel about art's versatility with two tales of love and injustice "twist into a singular yarn".


Niall Williams (Ireland)

History Of The Rain

Williams, from Co Clare, has written eight novels. This one is told from the perspective of Ruth Swain, who lies bedridden in a room crammed with thousands of books.

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