Thirteen novels out of a stunning 171 submissions — the highest number of titles put forward in the 50-year history of the Man Booker Prize — have been longlisted for the 2018 issue of the literary award.
According to Kwame Anthony Appiah, Chair of the 2018 panel of judges, each of the 13 novels — “which talk about slavery, ecology, missing persons, inner-city violence, young love, prisons, trauma, race” — capture something about a “world on the brink”.
“Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the times, there were many dystopian fictions on our bookshelf – and many novels we found inspirational as well as disturbing. Some of those we have chosen for this longlist feel urgent and topical, others might have been admired and enjoyed in any year,” says the British-born philosopher, cultural theorist, and novelist, in his statement.
The longlist features a graphic novel, for the first time. It’s ‘Sabrina’ by Nick Drnaso. In addition, the list boasts of four debut novelists and four authors under 30. The longlist has six writers from the UK, three from the US, two from Ireland and another two from Canada.
This year’s Golden Man Booker winner Michael Ondaatje — a special one-off award that crowned the best work of fiction from the last five decades of the prize — has once again made it to the list with his seventh novel “Warlight”. Ondaatje’s “The English Patient” shared the 1992 Booker Prize with “Sacred Hunger” by Barry Unsworth.
Ondaatje is accompanied by three other previously nominated authors: Esi Edugyan (shortlisted in 2011 for “Half-Blood Blues”), Donal Ryan (longlisted in 2013 for “The Spinning Heart”), and Richard Powers (longlisted in 2014 for “Orfeo”).
There are several astounding works by newcomers as well in the longlist, including Robin Robertson’s “The Long Take”, Sophie Mackintosh’s “The Water Cure”, Guy Gunaratne’s “In Our Mad and Furious City” and Daisy Johnson’s “Everything Under”.
Jonson, aged 27, is the joint youngest author on the list, alongside Sally Rooney (for “Normal People”).
“Among their many remarkable qualities is a willingness to take risks with form. And we were struck, overall, by their disruptive power: these novels disrupted the way we thought about things we knew about, and made us think about things we didn’t know about.
“Still, despite what they have in common, every one of these books is wildly distinctive. It’s been an exhilarating journey so far and we’re looking forward to reading them again. But now we’ll have thousands and thousands of people reading along with us,” says Appiah.
The shortlist of six books will be announced on September 20, and the winner of the prestigious 2018 Man Booker Prize will be revealed on October 16.