Works by openly gay writers Colm Toibin and Sarah Waters both feature in the 2009 Man Booker Prize longlist, described by the judging panel’s chairman as “one of the strongest lists in recent memory”.
Among the 13 novels selected from a pool of 130 are works by JM Coetzee, who won the prize in 1983 and 1999 and AS Byatt, whose novel Possession triumphed in 1990.
Waters’ The Little Stranger, a psychological thriller set in post-War England, joins Toibin’s Brooklyn on the list, which will be further trimmed to six titles on September 8th.
Both writers have been shortlisted for the award before, Waters for her works Fingersmith and The Night Watch, Toibin for The Blackwater Lightship and The Master.
James Naughtie, chairman of the judging panel, praised the quality of this year’s titles, which include three first-time novelists.
“We kept discovering new talent as well as reacquainting ourselves with familiar writers, and emerged with a feeling that we were part of an exceptional year,” he said.
“Our fiction is in the hands of original and dedicated writers with fresh and appealing voices. This is an eclectic list, taking us from the court of Henry VIII to the Hollywood jungle, with stops along the way in a nineteenth century Essex asylum, an African war zone and a futuristic Brazilian city among other places.”
The award, given annually, went last year to Aravind Adiga, author of The White Tiger. Among the judges making up the 2009 panel are Michael Prodger, Literary Editor of the Sunday Telegraph, the comedian and broadcaster Sue Perkins, and the academic John Mullan.
The winner of the £50,000 prize will be announced in October in a ceremony in London’s Guildhall.
AS Byatt – The Children’s Book
JM Coetzee – Summertime
Adam Foulds – The Quickening Maze
Sarah Hall – How to paint a dead man
Samantha Harvey – The Wilderness
James Lever – Me Cheeta
Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall
Simon Mawer – The Glass Room
Ed O’Loughlin – Not Untrue & Not Unkind
James Scudamore – Heliopolis
Colm Toibin – Brooklyn
William Trevor – Love and Summer
Sarah Waters – The Little Stranger