Man Booker Shortlist 2013
We Need New Names by (Chatto & Windus)
The Luminaries by (Granta)
Harvest by (Picador)
The Lowland by (
A Tale for the Time Being by (Canongate)
The Testament of Mary by (Penguin)
When Robert Macfarlane, the chair of this year's Man Booker Prize judges, announced the longlist he called it the most diverse in recent memory. The 151 novels they started with represented a grand vista that encompassed everything from the epic to the miniaturist. The longlist distilled the numbers but kept the flavour and now the shortlist has intensified it further.
The six books on the list could not be more diverse. There are examples from novelists from
, New Zealand , England , Canada and Ireland – each with its own highly distinctive taste. Zimbabwe
The judges Messrs Macfarlane, Douglas-Fairhurst, Haynes,
and Kelly have now read each of the books at least twice. Any book that bears re-reading has merit. A book that then stands out above its peers is special indeed. The shortlist is a consensus: it is one that shows that the judges have wide-ranging tastes; that they are unswayed by reputations (many big names didn't make the longlist let alone the shortlist); that they have no predilection for one particular genre; or books by one gender (there are four women and two men on the list); that they like new voices as well as familiar ones; that historical fiction has no more precedence than modern; that form is less important than quality. Kearney
And what does the list say about the writers? It is clear that the perennial complaint that fiction is too safe and unadventurous is a ridiculous one; it shows that the novel remains a multi-faceted thing; that writing and inspiration knows no geographical borders; that diaspora tales are a powerful strand in imaginative thinking; and that human voices, in all their diversity, drive fiction.
The winner will be announced next Tueday.