Thursday, July 30, 2009

Booker longlist pits fiction's finest against first kiss-and-tell chimp

Literary heavyweights AS Byatt and JM Coetzee were today named on this year's longlist for the Booker prize – which also features a first-time writer purporting to be Tarzan's chimpanzee.

The broadcaster James Naughtie, who chaired this year's panel of five judges, called the line-up of the 13 writers on the longlist, chosen from 132 books, "one of the strongest in recent memory" with "a span of styles and themes that make this an outstandingly rich fictional mix".

There were notable omissions: Anita Brookner, for her much praised Strangers, Sebastian Faulks, his novel A Week in December, and not one Asian writer listed. But Naughtie said it would have been "death" to judge by box-ticking and they had had to decide on the individual merit of the books, not reputations.

Of nine former winners considered this year two were longlisted. Byatt, who won in 1990 for Possession, is nominated for The Children's Book, her detailed exploration of the Edwardian cult of childhood, and Coetzee, who won for Disgrace, is named for Summertime.

Three first-time novelists are named on the list, including James Lever who wrote the hilarious Me Cheeta, his "biography" of the chimp movie star; Samantha Harvey, who also featured on this year's Orange prize shortlist for her Alzheimer's novel The Wilderness; and Ed O'Loughlin for Not Untrue & Not Unkind.

- Mark Brown,

Read the rest of the article here.

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