The longlist has been cut down and the six remaining books in the running for the Man Booker Prize 2013 were announced today. The list is as follows:
- We Need New Names; Noviolet Bulawayo
- The Luminaries; Eleanor Catton
- The Harvest; Jim Crace
- The Lowland; Jhumpa Lahiri
- A Tale for the Time Bring; Ruth Ozeki
- The Testament of Mary; Colm Toibin
When the longlist was announced it was described by the chair of the judges, Robert Macfarlane, as the most diverse in recent memory. This description from the Man Booker website illustrates just how diverse the final six are:
There are examples from novelists from New Zealand, England, Canada, Ireland and Zimbabwe – each with its own highly distinctive taste. They range in size from the 832 pages of Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries to the 104-page The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín. The times represented stretch from the biblical Middle East (Tóibín) to contemporary Zimbabwe (NoViolet Bulawayo) by way of 19th-century New Zealand (Catton), 1960s India (Jumpha Lahiri), 18th-century rural England (Crace) and modern Tokyo (Ruth Ozeki). The oldest author on the list, Jim Crace, is 67, the youngest (indeed the youngest ever shortlistee), Eleanor Catton, is 28. Colm Tóibín has written more than 15 books, The Luminaries is only Catton’s second.
I love the fact that it is so difficult to categorise these novels. How dull it would be if they were all similar. But how to pick a winner? I don’t envy the judges this difficult task. The one I like the sound of best is A Tale for the Time Being, but that is just my personal taste. When the longlist was announced I highlighted two others I liked the sound of – Trans Atlantic and The Five Star Billionaire, neither of which have made the final cut.
When it comes to reading, separating personal preferences from impartial judging of a set of books must be a very difficult task, particularly with such a diverse list. The winner will be announced next month.