The longlist, or ‘Man Booker Dozen’, for the £50,000 Man Booker Prize has been announced.
This year’s longlist of 13 books was selected by a panel of five judges: by the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah (Chair); crime writer Val McDermid; cultural critic Leo Robson; feminist writer and critic Jacqueline Rose; and artist and graphic novelist Leanne Shapton.
The list was chosen from 171 submissions – the highest number of titles put forward in the prize’s 50 year history – published in the UK and Ireland between 1 October 2017 and 30 September 2018.
The Man Booker Prize for Fiction, first awarded in 1969, is open to writers of any nationality, writing in English and published in the UK and Ireland. This is the first year that novels published in Ireland are eligible for the prize, following a change in rules announced at the start of 2018 that recognised the special relationship between the UK and Irish publishing markets.
The 2018 longlist, or Man Booker ‘Dozen’, of 13 novels, is:
Author (country/territory) Title (imprint)
Belinda Bauer (UK) Snap (Bantam Press)
Anna Burns (UK) Milkman (Faber & Faber)
Nick Drnaso (USA) Sabrina (Granta Books)
Esi Edugyan (Canada) Washington Black (Serpent’s Tail)
Guy Gunaratne (UK) In Our Mad And Furious City (Tinder Press)
Daisy Johnson (UK) Everything Under (Jonathan Cape)
Rachel Kushner (USA) The Mars Room (Jonathan Cape)
Sophie Mackintosh (UK) The Water Cure (Hamish Hamilton)
Michael Ondaatje (Canada) Warlight (Jonathan Cape)
Richard Powers (USA) The Overstory (William Heinemann)
Robin Robertson (UK) The Long Take (Picador)
Sally Rooney (Ireland) Normal People (Faber & Faber)
Donal Ryan (Ireland) From A Low And Quiet Sea (Doubleday Ireland)
Chair of the 2018 judges, Kwame Anthony Appiah, says:
“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. All of these books – which take in slavery, ecology, missing persons, inner-city violence, young love, prisons, trauma, race – capture something about a world on the brink. 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.”
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 – makes the list with his seventh novel Warlight; Ondaatje’s The English Patient shared the 1992 Booker Prize with Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth. He is joined by three other authors previously nominated for the prize: 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).
Four debut novels are recognised by the judges this year, including eminent Scottish poet Robin Robertson’s The Long Take, which is a novel in verse, Sophie Mackintosh’s The Water Cure, Guy Gunaratne’s In Our Mad And Furious City and Daisy Johnson’s Everything Under. Johnson, aged 27, is the joint youngest author on the list, alongside Sally Rooney (for Normal People).
Four independent publishers are longlisted: Faber & Faber (with two titles), Granta and Serpent’s Tail. They are joined by Penguin Random House imprints Hamish Hamilton, William Heinemann, Bantam Press and Jonathan Cape (which makes the list three times); Pan Macmillan imprint Picador; Headline, owned by Hachette; and Doubleday Ireland, an imprint of Transworld Ireland.
The UK and Ireland are well-represented, with eight out of the 13 writers on the longlist. Robin Robertson is from Scotland; Belinda Bauer, Guy Gunaratne and Daisy Johnson are from England; Anna Burns is from Northern Ireland; Sophie Mackintosh is from Wales. Sally Rooney and Donal Ryan are from Ireland. Two Canadians make the list, Esi Edugyan and Michael Ondaatje, along with three Americans, Nick Drnaso, Rachel Kushner and Richard Powers.
Luke Ellis, CEO of Man Group, comments:
“The judges have worked incredibly hard to assemble this year’s longlist, which recognises exceptional literary talent and ranges from debut writers to established novelists. My colleagues and I at Man Group would like to congratulate each of the authors selected.”
The shortlist and winner announcements
The shortlist of six books will be announced on Thursday 20 September at a morning press conference at Man Group, the sponsor of the prize. The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book.
The 2018 winner will then be announced on Tuesday 16 October in London’s Guildhall at a black-tie dinner, one of the highlights of the publishing year. The ceremony will be broadcast by the BBC.
The winner of the 2018 Man Booker Prize receives £50,000 and can expect international recognition. In the week following the 2017 winner announcement, sales of Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders increased by 1227%. Bloomsbury has to date sold over 230k copies of Lincoln across all formats, 70% of those sales coming after the win.
Speaking to The Independent following his win, Saunders described the experience of having the Man Booker judges approve of his work as “empowering”. He went on to highlight the responsibility he felt to not waste the platform that an accolade of this stature will give him: “As opportunities present themselves to me because of this, I don’t want to misuse them in any way. I don’t want to squander it. I want to use it responsibly and intelligently”.