Man Booker Prize Shortlist 2013

The Man Booker Prize shortlist was announced today and looks like an interesting and diverse offer, with two previous nominees*, four fabulous women writers and stories that will transport us to many far reaches of the world.

One of the judges, Robert Macfarlane had this to say:

‘Global in its reach, this exceptional shortlist demonstrates the vitality and range of the contemporary novel at its finest. These six superb works of fiction take us from gold-rush New Zealand to revolutionary Calcutta, from modern-day Japan to the Holy Land of the Gospels, and from Zimbabwe to the deep English countryside. World-spanning in their concerns, and ambitious in their techniques, they remind us of the possibilities and power of the novel as a form.’

The shortlist comprises:


NoViolet Bulawayo We Need New Names                  my review here

Eleanor Catton The Luminaries

Jim Crace Harvest

Jhumpa Lahiri The Lowland

Ruth Ozeki A Tale for the Time Being

Colm Tóibín The Testament of Mary

I have only read Bulawayo and I’m happy to see her on the list and I’m also ecstatic to see a fellow New Zealander make the list. I can’t help but hope that Eleanor Catton wins and I’m really looking forward to reading her novel The Luminaries, which has had some fantastic reviews.

The judges have one month to re-read the shortlist and the winner will be announced on 15 October 2013 at a ceremony at London’s Guildhall.

So have you read any from the list and any guesses for a winner?

*Colm Tóibín was previously shortlisted for The Blackwater Lightship in 1999 and The Master in 2004 while Jim Crace was shortlisted in 1997 for Quarantine.

29 thoughts on “Man Booker Prize Shortlist 2013

  1. I had heard Lahiri was coming out with a new collection, I hadn’t realized it was already out. I’ve read both Interpreter of Maladies (her debut story collection in 1998, won the Pulitzer) and also Unaccustomed Earth (was not as impressed with this collection as Interpreter) but the fact that Ms. Lahiri has gotten nominated for a Man Booker for her newest collection is not a surprise – she is an excellent writer.

    Thanks for providing this list Claire!


    • Lahiri is one writer I will read everything, so in a sense less of a discovery and more of a joy awaiting. It’s great to see her nominated and to see some new female writers on the list as well. I hope you get to read something new too.


      • I will definitely be picking up the new Lahiri, but with the list you provided I’d like to pick at least another one off the Man Booker finalists and read that too.

        I’d love to hear what you think about the stories once you do read JL.

        Thanks Claire. 🙂


  2. I’ve read NoViolet Bulawayo We Need New Names, Eleanor Catton The Luminaries (very unusual and interesting story – I didn’t know anything about the NZ goldrushes; the story-telling technique is particularly original), I’ve just downloaded extracts from Harvest, Tale for the Time Being and The Testament of Mary and I’ve pre-ordered The Lowland. I don’t know how many I’ll manage to read by 15th October! So far, The Luminaries is my pick.


  3. I have the Toibin and the Crace on my shelves and must now get round to reading them. However I read a really critical review of the Catton over the weekend and so am a little wary of the time needed for such a long book. Still I should make my own mind up and will get a copy when it is more readily available in the library system. The Lahiri is the one I’m most excited about. I love her work.


  4. I have read Testament of Mary and though it beautifully written and very poignant I’m not surprised to see it shortlisted. I have Harvest tbr and really want to get to it soon. I have decided I am not going to read the whole shortlist before the result this year – my tbr is just too overwhelming already. As always though I will watch out for the result with interest. I would like to read some of those titles though, but am trying hard to resist buying more books at the moment.


    • I know how you feel, the TBR only seems to grow and the dent we make in it never seems to reduce its size. At least the Toibin is a short book, so I may get through that although there are others on the list I am more tempted by, in particular The Luminaries.


  5. Pingback: Man Booker prize: The Testament of Mary is slimmest novel ever shortlisted

  6. No I haven’t but I’m about to embark on We Need New Names. The Luminaries and The Lowland both seem from interesting to me and would love to give them a try. I’ve been trying to turn my ears and eyes off reviews of We Need New Names because it seems to be everywhere and I don’t want to be spoiled.


    • Yes, I knew this would tempt you into picking it up, didn’t I tell you, you must read it first before Americanah. Speaking of which, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of A Yellow Sun premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on Sunday night and so we should all be hearing a lot more about that very soon! Hotly anticipated.Here’s a short review.


  7. I happen to be reading “A Tale for the Time Being,’ and will in fact be seeing/hearing Ruth Ozeki in conversation next week with Carol DeSanti. All in all, I’m pretty impressed with this short list. Jhumpa Lahiri is a very gifted writer and, like you, I’m anxious to read ‘The Luminaries.’ Of course, I have to read ‘We Need New Names,’ especially after your glowing review. Oh, I’m spinning 😉 in books.


  8. Nice list, Claire. Hope you enjoy reading Eleanor Catton’s book 🙂 I was hoping to see Colum McCann’s book on the shortlist too, because I really loved your review of the book. Sad that he couldn’t make it. Nice to see Bulawayo’s book on the list. Looking forward to finding out who the winner is, in October.


  9. Lahiri is one writer I will read everything too! I am ambivalent about the rest just because I haven’t read any of them. With the work schedule that I have, I think I can’t read any of them before the winner’s announcement.


    • That’s the beauty of a list, even after all the hoopla, the list is still there to choose from. Ultimately it is the creation of a new list that is the gift to readers, not the judgement of who should win, in my experience of prize lists, my favourites have rarely ever been the winner! But it’s fun to watch and listen and read all that happens during the process, there’s been little controversy with this years list, except perhaps the fact that 5 of them hadn’t yet been published when the list was announced.


      • Interesting… I think a lot of readers only ever read the book after the prize is announced. But you are right Claire, a list provides many more ideas on what to read next.

        Are you going to read all of them?


        • Unlikely, only those I’m particularly drawn to and once the buzz dies down, that becomes even clearer, it’s when we still really want to read a book, when everyone has moved on to start talking about something else.

          Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries really interests me, with its strong NZ connections and also because she is a writer that was picked up by Granta, but I may have to wait for the paperback version, I want a physical copy, not just an ebook. Lahiri is a writer I always enjoy reading, but I don’t feel any compulsion to read it right now. I’m not particularly drawn to either of the male contenders, though Toibin’s is a short read.


  10. Hi, I’ve now read the shortlist with the exception of Jim Crace, which I just can’t get into. I was not that keen on the Toibin, although I usually like his work. I found the main character difficult to believe in and I sometimes had trouble following the narrative. I really liked “The Lowland”, but then I always enjoy Lahiri. But the one I thought was the most interesting (I’ve already commented on Bulawayo and Catton) is Ozeki. Quite fascinating. The constant switch from Tokyo to a remote island in Canada gave greater insight into the characters on both side. There was also the question of how characters come alive to the author which was interesting. Ozeki is my pick for the award.


    • Well done on getting through the list, I’m enjoying reading all the reviews and trying to decide which books are for me, because there is such diversity of opinion regarding all the titles. Very intrigued to see which way the judges will go.


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