NEWS — 31 July 2013

Shelley Marsden

THREE Irish authors appear on the thirteen-strong longlist for this year’s Man Booker Prize, which has been lauded the ‘most diverse’ ever by its judges.

Enniscorthy-born author Colm Toibin is on the list for the third time, for The Testament of Mary, which was published last year. His is also one of the shortest entries, at just over 100 pages.

Toibin’s novella, which is now a one-woman Broadway show starring Fiona Shaw, offers a striking and very accessible vision of the Virgin Mary, as the writer imagines Mary, still bitter and mourning, thirty years after the crucifixion of her son.

Colm Toibin is one of the most recognisable authors on the vibrant list, which boast few well-known names (big-name authors such as Roddy Doyle and Margaret Atwood have missed out) and includes three first-time writers.

One of the newcomers is Donal Ryan, nominated for The Spinning Heart, an ambitious novel told from the points of view of 21 people who are trying to get by in a rural village in present-day Ireland, in the aftermath of the country’s financial collapse.

Aside from Toibin only Jim Crace, who is nominated for his eleventh novel Harvest, has appeared on the longlist before.

Dublin writer Colum McCann has been nominated for TransAtlantic.  It tells the intertwined stories of Alcock and Brown (the first non-stop transatlantic fliers in 1919), the visit of Frederick Douglass to Ireland in 1845/46, and the story of the Irish peace process as negotiated by Senator George Mitchell in 1998.

Robert Macfarlane, this year’s chair of judges, said: “This is surely the most diverse longlist in Man Booker history: wonderfully various in terms of geography, form, length and subject. These novels range from the traditional to the experimental, from the first century AD to the present day, from 100 pages to 1,000, and from Shanghai to Hendon.”

He added: “What links them is variety. They range from 100 to 1,000 pages. From the 1st century AD to the present. A vast variety of form and in subject matter.”

The shortlist for the £50,000 prize will be announced in September before judges name their winner on 15 October, in what is the prize’s 45th year in existence.

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