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Man Booker Prize 2009: Longlist revealed

Me Cheeta

Story by Jack Foley

THE longlist for the 2009 Man Booker Prize has been unveiled and includes three first-time novelists.

It also includes a number of established writers, including two former winners and four past-shortlisted authors.

Recurring names include Sarah Waters, Colm Tobin, JM Coetzee and AS Byatt, while James Lever is among the debutants to feature on the list for his work Ma Cheeta.

Declaring this year’s list of 13 titles to be “exceptional”, James Naughtie, chairman of the judges, said: “We believe it to be one of the strongest lists in recent memory.”

The long list is….

AS Byatt – The Children’s Book
JM Coetzee – Summertime
Adam Foulds – The Quickening Maze
Sarah Hall – How to paint a dead man
Samantha Harvey – The Wilderness
James Lever – Me Cheeta
Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall
Simon Mawer – The Glass Room
Ed O’Loughlin – Not Untrue & Not Unkind
James Scudamore – Heliopolis
Colm Toibin – Brooklyn
William Trevor – Love and Summer
Sarah Waters – The Little Stranger

Of the past winners to make the list, Coetzee, nominated for Summertime this time around, won the prize in 1983 and 1999, while Byatt triumphed in 1990 with Possession.

At the other end of the spectrum, Lever’s debut novel tells the purported autobiography of the chimpanzee Cheeta, who gained 1930s Hollywood stardom in the Tarzan movies.

Naughtie said that of the 130 novels considered for the longlist, those that had been selected emerged from “a fertile” creative field and still represented a diverse cross-section of the books that have been released over the past 12 months.

“We kept discovering new talent as well as re-acquainting ourselves with familiar writers and emerged with a feeling that we were part of an exceptional year,” he told the BBC.

“Our fiction is in the hands of original and dedicated writers with fresh and appealing voices. This is an eclectic list, taking us from the court of Henry VIII to the Hollywood jungle, with stops along the way in a 19th Century Essex asylum, an African warzone and a futuristic Brazilian city among other places.

“These are books that readers will want to get their hands on.”

The Man Booker Prize honours the best fiction written in English by an author from the UK, Ireland or the Commonwealth. The winner, who will receive a £50,000 prize, will be named in October from a shortlist of six that will be revealed on September 8.

Joining Naughtie on the judging panel, meanwhile, will be biographer and critic Lucasta Miller, Michael Prodger, Literary Editor of The Sunday Telegraph, Professor John Mullan, academic, journalist and broadcaster and Sue Perkins, comedian, journalist and broadcaster.

Last year’s winner was Aravind Adiga for his debut novel The White Tiger.