3 debut novelists and 5 previously shortlisted authors feature in the 2017 Man Booker Prize Longlist.

by |July 27, 2017

The longlist, or ‘Man Booker Dozen’, for the £50,000 Man Booker Prize was recently announced.

Arundhati Roy makes the list with her second work of fiction, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness; Roy’s debut novel won the then Booker Prize in 1997. She is joined by four previously shortlisted writers: Ali Smith for Hotel World, The Accidental and How to Be Both; Zadie Smith for On Beauty; Sebastian Barry for A Long Long Way Down, The Secret Scripture, and longlisted in 2011 for On Canaan’s Side; and Mohsin Hamid for The Reluctant Fundamentalist. It is a third longlist appearance for Jon McGregor.

Three debut novels are recognised by the judges this year, two of them written by the youngest authors on the list: Elmet by Fiona Mozley, aged 29, and History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund, aged 38. The third is George Saunders’ first full-length novel, Lincoln in the Bardo.

This year’s longlist of 13 books was selected by a panel of five judges: Baroness Lola Young (Chair); literary critic, Lila Azam Zanganeh; Man Booker Prize shortlisted novelist, Sarah Hall; artist, Tom Phillips CBE RA; and travel writer, Colin Thubron CBE. The list was chosen from 144 submissions published in the UK between 1 October 2016 and 30 September 2017. The Man Booker Prize for Fiction, first awarded in 1969, is open to writers of any nationality, writing in English and published in the UK.


The 2017 Man Booker Prize Longlist


4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster4 3 2 1
by Paul Auster

Paul Auster’s first novel in seven years. His greatest, most provocative, most heartbreaking, most satisfying work. A sweeping story of birthright and possibility, of love and the fullness of life itself. A masterpiece.

On March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born.

From that single beginning, Ferguson’s life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four Fergusons made of the same genetic material, four boys who are the same boy, will go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. Family fortunes diverge. Loves and friendships and intellectual passions contrast. Chapter by chapter, the rotating narratives evolve into an elaborate dance… Learn more.


The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati RoyThe Ministry of Utmost Happiness
by Arundhati Roy

A richly moving new novel – the first since the author’s Booker-Prize winning, internationally celebrated debut, The God of Small Things, went on to become a beloved best seller and enduring classic.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness transports us across a subcontinent on a journey of many years. It takes us deep into the lives of its gloriously rendered characters, each of them in search of a place of safety- in search of meaning, and of love.

In a graveyard outside the walls of Old Delhi, a resident unrolls a threadbare Persian carpet. On a concrete sidewalk, a baby suddenly appears, just after midnight. In a snowy valley, a bereaved father writes a letter to his five-year-old daughter about the people who came to her funeral. In a second-floor apartment, a lone woman chain-smokes… Learn more.


Lincoln in the Bardo by George SaundersLincoln in the Bardo
by George Saunders

The extraordinary first novel by the bestselling, Folio Prize-winning, National Book Award-shortlisted George Saunders, about Abraham Lincoln and the death of his eleven year old son, Willie, at the dawn of the Civil War

The American Civil War rages while President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son lies gravely ill. In a matter of days, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy’s body.

From this seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of realism, entering a thrilling, supernatural domain both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself trapped in a transitional realm – called, in Tibetan tradition, the bardo… Learn more.


Solar Bones by Mike McCormack, History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid


The Underground Railroad by Colson WhiteheadThe Underground Railroad
by Colson Whitehead

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. All the slaves lead a hellish existence, but Cora has it worse than most; she is an outcast even among her fellow Africans and she is approaching womanhood, where it is clear even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a slave recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they take the perilous decision to escape to the North.

In Whitehead’s razor-sharp imagining of the antebellum South, the Underground Railroad has assumed a physical form: a dilapidated box car pulled along subterranean tracks by a steam locomotive, picking up fugitives wherever it can. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But its placid surface masks an infernal scheme designed for its unknowing black inhabitants. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher sent to find Cora, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again… Learn more. 


Swing Time by Zadie SmithSwing Time
by Zadie Smith

How do we become who we are? Can we ever truly escape our origins? Must we dance to the music of our time?

Set in London, New York and West Africa, Swing Time is about two brown girls from Willesden who dream of being dancers. Only one – Tracey – has the talent. But the other has ideas which take her further than she could ever have imagined. It is a story of finding happiness in the meanest of places and feeling sad when all around you are happy. It’s about the choices we make and the choices made for us. Above all, it’s a tale of the friendships that anchor us, define us, and change us forever… Learn more.


Days Without End by Sebastian BarryDays Without End
by Sebastian Barry

Twice Booker-shortlisted author Sebastian Barry returns with a sensational new novel set in mid-19th Century America, an intensely poignant story of two men and the lives they are dealt.

Having signed up for the US army in the 1850s, aged barely seventeen, Thomas McNulty and his brother-in-arms, John Cole, go on to fight in the Indian wars and, ultimately, the Civil War. Orphans of terrible hardships themselves, they find these days to be vivid and alive, despite the horrors they both see and are complicit in.

Moving from the plains of the West to Tennessee, Sebastian Barry’s latest work is a masterpiece of atmosphere and language. Both an intensely poignant story of two men and the lives they are dealt, and a fresh look at some of the most fateful years in America’s past, Days Without End is a novel never to be forgotten… Learn more. 


Autumn by Ali Smith Autumn
by Ali Smith

Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. That’s what it felt like for Keats in 1819. How about Autumn 2016? Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic, once-in-a-generation summer. Love is won, love is lost. Hope is hand-in-hand with hopelessness. The seasons roll round, as ever.

Ali Smith’s new novel is a meditation on a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, on what harvest means. It is the first installment of her Seasonal quartet—four stand-alone books, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as the seasons are)—and it casts an eye over our own time. Who are we? What are we made of? Shakespearean jeu d’esprit, Keatsian melancholy, the sheer bright energy of 1960s pop art: the centuries cast their eyes over our own history making… Learn more.


Elmet by Fiona Mozley, Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie, Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor.

Browse the full 2017 Man Booker Prize Longlist here

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About the Contributor

Anastasia Hadjidemetri is the former editor of The Booktopian and star of Booktopia's weekly YouTube show, Booked with Anastasia. A big reader and lover of books, Anastasia relishes the opportunity to bring you all the latest news from the world of books.

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