Each year I always set myself the enjoyable task of reading ALL the novels that make up the annual Booker longlist, before the winner is announced – after all, summer is perfect for chilling out with a decent book!
It’s a little bit of fun and an opportunity to grab some ‘me time’ and also a personal challenge to read 12 books in under 3 months (the judges have just read 151!) – it’s the luck of the draw as until the longlist is announced, I never know how long each novel will be. Last year I was scuppered by several heavyweight tomes and with work and home commitments I didn’t achieve my own self-imposed target – but 2013 will be different!
I set myself another personal challenge a few years ago – to read every winning novel since the Booker Prize was launched in 1969 – and I have achieved it! Of the 47 past winners of this prestigious literary award, my personal favourites are;
- Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, which deals with the effects of the partition of India during the British colonial period. Won in 1981; UK/India. Incidentally Midnight’s Children was also voted as the ultimate ‘Booker of Bookers’ in 1993 to commemorate the 25th Booker Prize anniversary.
- The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst, which charts the exploits of a young gay man Iiving the high life in London in the 1980s. Won in 2004; UK.
- Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally (which was later renamed Schindler’s List in the US to tie in with the movie), is the real-life novel of World War II hero Oskar Schindler who saved 1,200 Jews from Nazi concentration camps. Won in 1982; Australia.
- Life of Pi by Yann Martel, the fantasy adventure of the boy who survives 227 days at sea on a tiny lifeboat with only a Bengal tiger, and Richard Parker, for company. In my opinion the book is superior to the film as it covers Pi’s journey in intimate detail, including some of the bizarre ways he struggled to stay alive. Make your own mind up!
Each fiction novel is written by an author from the Commonwealth countries, Ireland and Zimbabwe. Last year’s winner was Hilary Mantel with Bring Up The Bodies, a heavyweight historical novel which continued her success after her 2009 winner Wolf Hall.
The 13 longlisted novels have been chosen by a panel of five judges who all have professional writing experience, and come from a broadcasting or academic background.
So your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to read as many of these longlisted books before the winner is announced on 15 October 2013, or to read the six shortlisted books which will be announced on 10 September 2013. Feel free to add your comments below…
Booker Prize 2013: Longlist Novels
Tash Aw – Five Star Billionaire (449 pages) Malaysia
NoViolet Bulawayo – We Need New Names (304 pages) Zimbabwe
Eleanor Catton – The Luminaries (832 pages) New Zealand
Jim Crace – Harvest (320 pages) Britain
Eve Harris – The Marrying of Chani Kaufman (350 pages) Britain
Richard House – The Kills (912 pages)
Jhumpa Lahiri – The Lowland (352 pages) India
Alison MacLeod – Unexploded (337 pages) Canada
Colum McCann – TransAtlantic (320 pages) Ireland
Charlotte Mendelson – Almost English (288 pages) Britain
Ruth Ozeki – A Tale for the Time Being (400 pages) Canada
Donal Ryan – The Spinning Heart (160 pages) Ireland
Colm Tóibín – The Testament of Mary (112 pages) Ireland
Shortlisted books are highlighted in green.
And if these novels inspire you, why not enter our Travel Writing Competition?
You can follow all the latest news on the official Man Booker Prize site.