The Man Booker Prize is the largest, most prestigious award for fictional novel writing in the English language. Today, the shortlist for the 2012 award was announced, including two first time writers and 2009’s Man Booker Prize winner.
After last year’s controversial move by judges to select based on ‘readability,’ chair Sir Peter Stothard has stated that, “After re-reading an extraordinary long list of 12, it was the pure power of prose that settled most debates.” He went on to say it was "an exhilarating year for fiction – the strongest, I would say, for more than a decade," reports The Guardian.
Included in this year’s list, is William Self’s unorthodox novel, ‘Umbrella,’ which The Guardian reports is a “400-page book without paragraphs or breaks or chapter divisions.” Stothard assures readers that it’s “both moving and brainy and we place it on the shortlist with the conviction that those who stick with it will find it much less difficult than it first seems."
Hilary Mantel, winner of 2009’s Booker Prize for Wolf Hall, is nominated again this year for the sequel, Bring up the Bodies. The novels are fictitious portrayals of Thomas Cromwell, advisor to King Henry VIII.
First time novelist Alison Moore has also been nominated for her novel The Lighthouse, which is about a life altering walking holiday in Germany. Another first time novelist is India’s Jeet Thayil, about opium houses in Mumbai.
South Africa-born Deborah Levy, who writes of the devastation in South Africa caused by depression, is also nominated. It is her first book in 15 years.
Malaysia’s Tan Twang Eng is nominated for his novel, The Garden of Evenings Mists, which takes place during the Japanese occupation of Malay after World War II. Stothard stated that Eng’s character, Aritomo, was "one of the most memorable characters in all the 30,000 or so pages we've read this year,” reports The Guardian. Eng’s first novel, The Gifts of Rain, was on the long list in 2007.
This year’s books were judged by literary critic Dinah Birch, author Amanda Foreman, academic and writer Bharat Tandon and actor Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey). The judges read through 145 books and deliberated for more than 3 hours to narrow it down to six books.
To be considered for the prize, entries must be novels originally written in the English language and writers must be a citizen of the British Commonwealth, the Republic of Ireland or Zimbabwe. The Man Booker Prize is in its 44th year.
Last year’s winner was The Sense of an Ending, by British author Julian Barnes. The BBC has reported that Barnes has sold over 300,000 copies to date, within the UK.