Sunday July 29, 2012
Booker’s local rep
Presenting the 12 books longlisted for one of the literary world’s most prestigious awards — and they include one by a Malaysian.
FOR the second time in his career as an author, Malaysia-born, South Africa-based Tan Twan Eng has had one of his books longlisted for the prestigious British literary award, the Man Booker Prize.
His second novel, The Garden Of Evening Mists, is among the 12 titles on the 2012 longlist announced on Wednesday in London.The 39-year-old author’s debut novel, The Gift Of Rain (2007), was longlisted for the 2007 Booker; it won third place in the fiction category in the 2009 Popular-The Star Readers’ Choice Awards.
In announcing the Booker longlist, the judges said they had focused on “novels not novelists” and “texts not reputations”, overlooking some of the biggest names in contemporary English language fiction, including Zadie Smith, Ian McEwan and Martin Amis.
Smith, with her first novel in seven years, NW, due out in September, was widely expected to make the Booker longlist, as were a host of former winners, including John Banville, Pat Barker and Howard Jacobson.
Instead, four debut writers were chosen by the judges: Sam Thompson for his first novel, Communion Town; Rachel Joyce for The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry; Jeet Thayil for Narcopolis; and Alison Moore for The Lighthouse.
Also making the cut was young 27-year-old author Ned Beauman, for his second novel, The Teleportation Accident.
“Who published a book, and indeed even the author, is of very little concern to Man Booker judges. We were considering novels not novelists, texts not reputations,” said chair of judges Peter Stothard, editor of the Times Literary Supplement.
Stothard said that the key criterion for this year’s judges was that “a text has to reveal more, the more often you read it”.
“We were looking for books that you can make a sustained critical argument about, and when you read them again, you can make a different critical argument – not for books you can just say ‘wow, I enjoyed it’, or ‘wow, that was terrible’,” he said.
Heading the big names who are up for the £50,000 (RM248,000) award this year is Hilary Mantel, chosen for her follow-up to the Booker-winning Wolf Hall, Bring Up The Bodies.
Mantel has been installed as the bookies’ favourite, with Will Self’s Umbrella coming in second.
Bookseller Jonathan Ruppin at independent British chain Foyles tipped Self as winner, describing the longlist as “one of the most delightful and unexpected in years”.
The following are brief descriptions of the full longlist:
Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel: In addition to winning the Man Booker with Wolf Hall last year, this is Mantel’s second time being longlisted for the prize. Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and Jane Seymour tangle in her latest historical novel.
Communion Town by Sam Thompson: This is Thompson’s first novel, described aptly by its subtitle, “A City in Ten Chapters”.
Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil: Thayil’s debut novel is set partly in an underworld 1970s Bombay, in and around an opium den, and partly in contemporary India.
Philida by André Brink: Brink, who has twice been shortlisted for the Man Booker prize, is the author of A Dry White Season, a classic novel of racial injustice in South Africa. Philida is about the hopes of a South African slave in the 1830s on the verge of liberation.
Skios by Michael Frayn: Frayn, who is the eldest contender at 78, has once been shortlisted for the Man Booker. Skios is a farce set on a Greek island where pompous academics and sexy weekends collide.
Swimming Home by Deborah Levy: A group of tourists in the French Riviera begin to come apart over the course of a week in this elliptical novel.
The Garden Of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng: Set in Malaya in 1951, The Garden follows the survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp; her retreat to the jungle highlands brings her in contact with the Japanese emperor’s exiled gardener.
The Lighthouse by Alison Moore: Born in 1971, Moore has been claiming the attention of prize juries for her short fiction and a novella; this is her first time on the Booker longlist. In The Lighthouse, a middle-aged man takes a walking trip in Germany, his mind circling back to a boyhood visit there with his father after his mother had left them.
The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman: At 27, Beauman is the youngest author on the list. A comedy that ties together 20th century Berlin, America’s CalTech university in 1938, and 17th century Paris.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce: This is a first novel for Joyce, who has previously written for BBC radio and television. It’s the story of a man who sets out to walk almost 1,000km across Britain to reach a dying friend.
The Yips by Nicola Barker: She was longlisted for the Man Booker in 2004 for Clear and shortlisted for the 2007 prize for Darkmans. The Yips is a comic novel about a golfer with an unsteady hand.
Umbrella by Will Self: An award-winning comic novelist, Self has set Umbrella in a North London mental hospital in 1971, where a maverick psychiatrist treats a woman whose mind flits back to Edwardian England.
The shortlist for this year’s award will be announced on Sept 11, and the winner will be revealed on Oct 16. – Agencies