The 13 books on the list cover a wide range of themes, including moving personal dramas and tragi-comic family sagas, as well as the effects of climate change and the oppression of minorities.
The longlist for this year’s Booker Prize has been released - and it’s as diverse as ever.
The judges for the award, which is among the world’s most influential for a single work of fiction, have chosen 13 books from writers hailing from seven countries across four continents.
The 2023 judging panel is chaired by twice-shortlisted novelist Esi Edugyan. She’s joined by Bridgerton star Adjoa Andoh, Mary Jean Chan, James Shapiro and Peep Show actor Robert Webb. They read 163 novels over seven months before making their decision.
“The list is defined by its freshness – by the irreverence of new voices, by the iconoclasm of established ones. All 13 novels cast new light on what it means to exist in our time, and they do so in original and thrilling ways”, explains Esi Edugyan, adding, “The novels are small revolutions, each seeking to energise and awaken the language. Together – whether historical or contemporary – they offer startling portraits of the current.”
The list features four debut novels from American Jonathan Escoffery and Brits Siân Hughes, Lloyd-Barlow and Chetna Maroo.
Irish writer Sebastian Barry has made history, joining a select group of just 10 other authors nominated for the Prize at least five times, a list which includes Beryl Bainbridge, William Trevor and David Mitchell.
It’s a big year for Ireland, with four Irish writers making up a third of the longlist for the first time ever.
Thanks to this year’s longlistees, Ireland is now the country that has produced the most nominees, relative to population size, in the prize’s history.
Malaysian Tan Twan Eng has managed a literary hattrick. His work ‘The House of Doors’ joins his other two novels, from 2007 and 2012, on the nomination list.
Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ is the only the fifth Nigerian novelist ever to be nominated for the Booker Prize and, if she were to win, would be the second Nigerian-born winner, after Ben Okri in 1991.
A number of the novels are rooted in true events and literary history. Siân Hughes’ ‘Pearl’ is inspired by an anonymous 14th century poem of the same name, while W. Somerset Maugham features in Tan Twan Eng’s ‘The House of Doors’.
Paul Harding’s ‘This Other Eden’ takes its title from a speech in Shakespeare’s play Richard II and is based on the true story of Malaga Island in Maine, USA.
The longlist also features a neurodiverse protagonist, written from personal experience.
Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow has extensive personal and professional experience relating to autism, and, like her book’s character Sunday in ‘All the Little Bird-Hearts’, is autistic.
The Booker Prize, established in 1969, is open to works of long-form fiction by writers of any nationality, but the works must be written in English and published in the UK or Ireland.
Over the next few weeks, the longlist will be whittled down to a shortlist of six books to be announced on 21 September at an event at the newly reopened National Portrait Gallery in London.
The winner is set to be announced on 26 November at an award ceremony held at Old Billingsgate in the capital.
The winner will receive £50,000 (about €58,000) and a trophy named ‘Iris’, in honour of the 1978 Booker winner Iris Murdoch.