Friday 31 October 2014

Two Irish authors make longlist for prestigious Man Booker Prize

Published 23/07/2014 | 12:38

Niall Williams
Niall Williams
History of the Rain by Niall Williams
History of the Rain by Niall Williams

Irish authors Niall Williams and Joseph O'Neill have made the longlist for the Man Booker Prize.

The author has made the prize’s first international longlist with his novel “History of the Rain”.

Williams’ story is set in the village of Faha in west Clare, where young Ruth Swain lies bedridden in an attic room piled high with 3,958 books.

The character tells the story of herself, her beloved father and the family of English clergymen from which he came. Meanwhile, it rains outside.

For the first time in its 46 year history, the £50,000 prize (€63265) has, in 2014, been opened up to writers of any nationality, writing originally in English and published in the UK. 

Previously, the prize was open to authors from the UK & Commonwealth, Republic of Ireland and Zimbabwe.

Literary trailblazers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries from Salman Rushdie to Hilary Mantel, Iris Murdoch to Peter Carey have been previous winners.

The rules of the prize changed at the end of 2013, to embrace ‘the freedom of English in all its vigour, its vitality, its versatility and its glory wherever it may be’, opening up to writers beyond the UK and Commonwealth.

The 2014 longlist, or Man Booker ‘Dozen’, of 13 novels, is:

Author (nationality)                  Title (publisher)

Joshua Ferris (American)             To Rise Again at a Decent Hour (Viking)

Richard Flanagan (Australian)     The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Chatto & Windus)

Karen Joy Fowler (American)       We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Serpent's Tail)

Siri Hustvedt (American)              The Blazing World (Sceptre)

Howard Jacobson (British)           J (Jonathan Cape)

Paul Kingsnorth (British)             The Wake (Unbound)

David Mitchell (British)                 The Bone Clocks (Sceptre)

Neel Mukherjee (British)              The Lives of Others (Chatto & Windus)

David Nicholls (British)                 Us (Hodder & Stoughton)

Joseph O'Neill (Irish/American)  The Dog (Fourth Estate)

Richard Powers (American)           Orfeo (Atlantic Books)

Ali Smith (British)                          How to be Both (Hamish Hamilton)

Niall Williams (Irish)                  History of the Rain (Bloomsbury )

 

Chair of the 2014 judges, AC Grayling, said: ‘This is a diverse list of ambition, experiment, humour and artistry. The novels selected are full of wonderful stories and fascinating characters.

‘The judges were impressed by the high quality of writing and the range of issues tackled - from 1066 to the future, from a PoW camp in Thailand, to a dentist’s chair in Manhattan; from the funny to the deeply serious, sometimes in the same book.’

The 2014 panel include Grayling, Jonathan Bate; Sarah Churchwell; Daniel Glaser; Alastair Niven and Erica Wagner.

The shortlist of six books will be announced on Tuesday 9 September at a press conference at the London offices of Man Group, the prize’s sponsor.

The 2014 winner announcement will then be broadcast by the prize’s broadcasting partner, the BBC, from London’s Guildhall on Tuesday 14 October.

Eleanor Catton won last year’s Man Booker Prize for Fiction with The Luminaries (Granta).

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