London: Twenty years after Arundhati Roy won the Man Booker prize for her debut novel “The God of Small Things”, the Indian author has been longlisted for the 50,000 pound award for her second title, “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness”, the media reported on Thursday.
On a longlist thronged with literary titans, whose combined trophy cabinet would include the Pulitzer, the Costa, the Baileys, the Folio, the Impac and the Goldsmiths prizes, Roy, the only author to have won the Booker before, is listed for her novel about an Indian transgender woman, which judges called a “rich and vital book”, reports the Guardian.
The Man Booker judging panel, picking from more than 150 titles, also went for four writers who have been shortlisted for the UK’s most prestigious literary prize before but not won it.
Ali Smith was chosen for the “humane, zany, delightful, optimistic” post-EU referendum novel “Autumn”; Zadie Smith was picked for her story of the friendship and rivalry between two London girls who meet at a dance class, “Swing Time”; Sebastian Barry is in the running with “Days Without End”, about an Irish man who migrates to the US in the lead-up to the civil war; and Mohsin Hamid for “Exit West”, a love story set in a world where refugees use wormholes to travel from city to city.
The Booker was opened up to US authors in 2014 and this three of the biggest names in the country are competing for the prize.
Paul Auster with “4321”, which explores one man’s four simultaneous lives and was deemed “magisterial” by the judges; George Saunders, a short-story writer whose first novel “Lincoln in the Bardo” follows Abraham Lincoln’s visits to the graveyard where his 11-year-old son has been laid to rest in a crypt; and Colson Whitehead for his fantastical novel “The Underground Railroad”, about a female slave escaping from a Georgia cotton plantation, which has already won the Pulitzer and the National Book Award.
With a split of four UK, four US, two Irish, two UK-Pakistani and one Indian writer; seven men to six women; three debuts; and three novels from independent presses, chair of judges Lola Young insisted that only when the judges surveyed the 13 remaining contenders, they realised the diversity of their list.
“The longlist showcases a diverse spectrum – not only of voices and literary styles but of protagonists too, in their culture, age and gender,” the Guardian quoted Young as saying.
Young and her fellow judges will now re-read the longlist of 13 titles to come up with a shortlist of six, which will be announced on September 13.
The winner will be unveiled on October 17.
Last year’s winner, “The Sellout” by American author Paul Beatty, has now sold more than 360,000 physical copies, with sales in the week after the prize announcement jumping by 658%.