10 September 2013
At the time of the longlist, Chair of judges Robert Macfarlane praised the diversity of the books in contention for the prize as ‘wonderfully various in terms of geography, form, length and subject’. This remains true of the shortlist, with the six writers hailing from across the globe: Canada, Britain, Ireland, New Zealand and, for the first time in the prize’s history, Zimbabwe.
The six books, whittled down from a longlist of 13, are:
|NoViolet Bulawayo||We Need New Names (Chatto & Windus)|
|Eleanor Catton||The Luminaries (Granta)|
|Jim Crace||Harvest (Picador)|
|Jhumpa Lahiri||The Lowland (Bloomsbury)|
|Ruth Ozeki||A Tale for the Time Being (Canongate)|
|Colm Tóibín||The Testament of Mary (Viking)|
The shortlist was announced by Robert Macfarlane, at a press conference held at the Man Group’s London headquarters. He comments:
‘Global in its reach, this exceptional shortlist demonstrates the vitality and range of the contemporary novel at its finest. These six superb works of fiction take us from gold-rush New Zealand to revolutionary Calcutta, from modern-day Japan to the Holy Land of the Gospels, and from Zimbabwe to the deep English countryside. World-spanning in their concerns, and ambitious in their techniques, they remind us of the possibilities and power of the novel as a form.’
Two writers have appeared on the shortlist before: Jim Crace was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1997 for Quarantine (Viking), while Colm Tóibín has been shortlisted twice: for The Blackwater Lightship in 1999 and in 2004 with The Master.
It is the first time each of the four female writers has been nominated for the prize. They count amongst them a Buddhist priest (Ozeki), a member of Barack Obama’s President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities (Lahiri) and the first Zimbabwean writer to make the shortlist (Bulawayo). Eleanor Catton, who will be 28 at the time of the winner announcement, is the youngest on the shortlist.
Macfarlane was joined at the shortlist press conference by the four other members of the 2013 Man Booker Prize judging panel: the renowned broadcaster Martha Kearney; critic, academic and prize-winning biographer, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst; broadcaster, classicist and critic, Natalie Haynes and Stuart Kelly, essayist and former literary editor of Scotland on Sunday. The judges now have just over a month to re-read the shortlisted titles and select one winner, who will be announced on 15 October 2013 at the winner’s ceremony at London’s Guildhall.
In the meantime, the six authors are due to appear at a number of public events in the run up to the winner announcement. They include: an event for members of the public and UK library staff at the newly opened Library of Birmingham on Wednesday 9 October; a talk and signing at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival on Saturday 12 October and an audience with the authors at the Southbank Centre on Sunday 13 October, hosted by broadcaster Mark Lawson. Finally, there will be an audience with the winner at Apple’s Regent Street branch on Thursday 17 October.
At the ceremony, which will be broadcast by the BBC, the six authors will each be presented with a cheque for £2,500 and a hand-bound edition of their book, prepared by some of the UK’s leading bookbinders. In addition, the winner receives £50,000.
2013 marks the 45th year of the Man Booker Prize. It was first awarded to P.H. Newby for Something to Answer For in 1969. Last year’s winner, Hilary Mantel, has made history as the first woman and the first British author to win the prize twice. Her two winning novels – Bring Up the Bodies and Wolf Hall – have sold over 1.5 million copies. She is the first Man Booker Prize winning author to take the number spot in the official UK Top 50, with the mass-market edition of Bring Up the Bodies.