Man Booker Prize longlist is released with Americans eligible for the first time

Four American authors made the cut, including Joshua Ferris and Karen Joy Fowler.

Brett Hall Jones/Penguin Group USA/AP
Karen Joy Fowler is one author who made the longlist for the Man Booker Prize.

The longlist for the 2014 Man Booker Prize was released, with authors from outside Britain, Ireland, and the Commonwealth being eligible for the first time this year.

According to the Guardian, four American writers made the cut out of the 13 writers who are now contenders. Richard Powers’ book “Orfeo” is on the list as well as Siri Hustvedt’s “The Blazing World,” Karen Joy Fowler’s “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves,” Joseph O’Neill’s book “The Dog,” and Joshua Ferris’s “To Rise Again at a Decent Hour.” 

The British nominees are “The Wake” by Paul Kingsnorth, “The Lives of Others” by Neel Mukherjee, “How to Be Both” by Ali Smith, “J” by Howard Jacobson, “The Bone Clocks” by David Mitchell, and “Us” by David Nicholls. 

Irish author Niall Williams is nominated for the work “History of the Rain” and Richard Flanagan of Australia made the list for his book “The Narrow Road to the Deep North.” Writer Joseph O’Neill, who made the list for “The Dog,” was born in Ireland and is currently an American resident.

Several observers noted that author Donna Tartt did not make the cut for her novel “The Goldfinch,” which, since its release in the US last fall, has been both a critical and a popular success.

The decision to include all authors who write in English and had their books released in the UK in the prize met with some detractors when it was announced last year, and now that the list has been released, reaction to it seems to be mixed. “There are no Indian or African authors and that will raise eyebrows among those who feared writers from some Commonwealth countries might get squeezed out by the new rules,” noted BBC writer Rebecca Jones. Guardian writer John Dugdale wrote that “if the first longlist under the new rules is any guide, it may have paradoxically become less international, not more, as a result of introducing them…. So although non-western countries are depicted in works by Flanagan, Neel Mukherjee and Joseph O'Neill, there's a marked sense of restricted horizons when set against a 2013 longlist full of travellers and immigrants, and in which Catton, NoViolet Bulawayo, Richard House, Jhumpa Lahiri and Ruth Ozeki all pulled off ambitious intercontinental narratives.”

However, Telegraph writer Sameer Rahim called the list “strong.” “All the earlier chat about British writers being pushed out has proved unfounded,” he wrote. “Six high-calibre novelists are nominated including 2010 winner Howard Jacobson, David Mitchell and Ali Smith. I’m also pleased to see Neel Mukherjee, a real talent, make an appearance.”

Some also objected to the gender divide on the list, with 10 men and three women writers making the cut. Guardian writer Mark Brown noted that “some eyebrows will be raised,” and Entertainment Weekly writer Tina Jordan opined that “At surface level, it seems inconceivable, not to mention dispiriting, that in this day and age that there’s still so much sexism in the literary prize world.”

According to the The New York Times, A.C. Grayling, the author who led the panel of judges for the prize, said, “The one guiding principle was to judge each book solely on its literary quality. There was no tokenism of any kind.”

The shortlist will be announced in September and the prize will be bestowed in October.

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