Arundhati Roy leads Man Booker prize longlist, 20 years after first triumph

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Anna Brech
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The longlist for the 2017 Man Booker prize is in, with Arundhati Roy leading nominations 20 years after she first won the award for her debut novel. 

Roy became the first Indian woman to land the Man Booker title in 1997, for The God of Small Things – and now her feverishly anticipated new novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, is in the running for the same prestigious honour.

Judges described her latest work – an intricate tale of an Indian transgender woman that meanders through Old Delhi to Kashmir and the forests of central India – as a “rich and vital book”.

The author joins a stellar line-up of exciting literary names in contest for this year’s £50,000 prize, which recognises high-quality fiction written in English. 

Zadie Smith’s novel Swing Time – which tells the story of two biracial girls who make friends in a London dance class – is also up for the Man Booker title. “I wanted to write something about early life,” the White Teeth author said of her latest book.

Another literary heavyweight on the 2017 longlist is Ali Smith, for her post-Brexit tome Autumn. This abstract and whimsical novel examines the tumultuous fallout of last year’s European Referendum and is, according to the Man Booker panel, “humane, zany, delightful, optimistic”.

These established authors will be competing alongside American writer Emily Fridlund, whose unsettling debut novel, History of Wolvestells the story of a teenage outcast living in an abandoned commune with her parents.

Another debut author to make the grade for the 2017 Man Booker longlist is Britain’s Fiona Mozley, whose book The Elmet is an atmospheric and thrilling tale of the bond between a father and his child set in Yorkshire.

First awarded in 1969, the Man Booker’s hall of fame boasts many literary giants from Salman Rushdie to Hilary Mantel, Iris Murdoch and Ian McEwan.

This year’s longlist features 13 titles spread across seven men and six women, and six different nationalities.

“We found there was a spirit common to all these novels: though their subject matter might be turbulent, their power and range were life-affirming – a tonic for our times,” says Man Booker chair of judges Baroness Lola Young. “Together their authors – both recognised and new – explore an array of literary forms and techniques, from those working in a traditional vein to those who aim to move the walls of fiction.”

A shortlist of six books will be announced on 13 September, with an overall winner unveiled on 17 October.

Take a look at the longlist in full, below, and get expanding your reading repetoire, pronto...

The 2017 Man Booker prize longlist

4321 by Paul Auster (Faber & Faber)

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry (Faber & Faber)

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, Orion Books)

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House)

Solar Bones by Mike McCormack (Canongate)

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor (4th Estate, HarperCollins)

Elmet by Fiona Mozley (JM Originals, John Murray)

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House)

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (Bloomsbury)

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (Bloomsbury)

Autumn by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House)

Swing Time by Zadie Smith (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House)

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (Fleet, Little, Brown)

Images: Getty images, Rex features


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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.