Submitted by Natalie on Thu, 26/07/2012 - 18:23
The longlist for the 2012 Man Booker Prize, newly announced by judges Dinah Birch, Amanda Foreman, Dan Stevens, Bharat Tandon and chair Sir Peter Stothard, has been described by The Times as ‘a list for readers and all the better for it.’
Here’s our run-down of the 12 novels.
Barker has been nominated for the Man Booker Prize before, for her novel Darkmans in 2008, and she follows it up four years later with The Yips. The Guardian said the novel succeeded because of its “loose energy, its generosity of attention and invention, its puckishness and wild similes, its lyric intensities and its sudden lurches of feeling, The Yips is a novel that's more than just odd.” On Twitter, Jon Howells (@jonmhowells) predicted that, “The Yips by Nicola Barker will win this year's #ManBookerPrize.”
Following up his critically acclaimed debut Boxer, Beetle, which was nominated for the Desmond Elliot Prize in 2011, Beauman tells the story of Renaissance stage designer, Adriano Lavicini. Set throughout history in Berlin, Paris and 17th Century France, The Teleportation Accident is “popping with ideas, fizzing with vitality, and great fun to quaff” according to The Independent. On Twitter, James Hoare (@JDHoare) says, ‘The Teleportation Accident has a whiff of Kafka about it.’
Brink’s latest novel, Philida, due out this September, tells the story of a woman determined to find her freedom in 1830-era South Africa, as slavery was about to be abolished. Brink has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize twice before, in 1976 and 1978.
Set in Malaya in 1949 in the shadow of World War Two, Eng’s second novel tells the story of Yun Ling Teoh, a lawyer involved in the prosecution of Japanese war criminals, and herself a survivor of a Japanese war camp. She seeks solace in the mountaintop garden of the title and, despite her hatred of the Japanese, enters into an apprenticeship with its Japanese gardener, Aritomo. But Malaya’s political breakdown and the unanswered questions surrounding each of them threaten their fragile friendship. The Independent called it an ‘elegant and haunting novel of war, art and memory.’
In a comic tale of mistaken identity, Skios follows the story of Dr Norman Wilfrid who is set to lecture on the organisation of science on a Greek island. The Sunday Times claimed ‘tears of laughter make the print swim in front of your eyes.’ On Twitter, BookPage (@bookpage) called it ‘a dizzying send-up of foreign travel.’
Another debut, Joyce’s novel is an, ‘original, quietly courageous testament to the inhuman effort of being normal’, according to The Guardian. Harold Fry leaves his house to post a letter to his onetime colleague, and dying friend, Queenie. He walks past the post box and finds himself walking the length of the country to deliver the letter by hand. On Twitter, Chapters/Indigo (@chaptersindigo) says, ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is my favourite book I have read so far this year.’
Set in a summer villa, Swimming Home takes place over a single week in which a group of tourists in the French Riviera come loose at the seams. In The Independent, Boyd Tonkin called this powerful novel ‘a compact treasure.’ On Twitter, John Mitchinson (@johnmitchinson) was, ‘delighted to see that new publisher @andothertweets novel 'Swimming Home' has been longlisted.”
The sequel to the 2009 Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall, Bring up the Bodies is an, “outstandingly good read” according to the The Economist. Not only does it follow on brilliantly from its predecessor as we are re-introduced to Thomas Cromwell with Henry VI in pursuit of yet another wife, but it also stands alone. On Twitter, Susan Baldwin @SuzBald said, 'From page one, it's riveting and all-encompassing.'
Another novel about walking, and another debut, The Lighthouse is about a man trying to find himself while on holiday around Germany. Renowned novelist, biographer and critic Margaret Drabble called it, ‘a serious novel with a distinctive and unsettling atmosphere.’
Published at the end of August, Umbrella is about a psychiatrist working in a Victorian mental asylum who tries to wake up the victims of a sleeping sickness epidemic - with unforeseen consequences.
Narcopolis chronicles a cast of interesting characters, centring around an opium den in 1970s’ Mumbai. Alan Warner, who was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2010, said it was, ‘completely fascinating and told with a feverish and furious necessity.’ On Twitter, Nikesh Shukla (@nikeshshukla) said, ‘Narcopolis is incredible.’
This atmospheric tale about an ever-changing, nameless city was called, ‘a strange, remarkable work’ by Malaysian writer, Tash Aw. The city is pieced together by 10 stories that meet and diverge, stories of the commonplace and the strange, of love and crime, of ghosts and monsters. On Twitter, Adam White (@adamawhite) recommends, ‘Read Sam Thompson's 'Communion Town', It's absolutely fabulous.’