One sentence Irish novel favourite for Man Booker Prize

Man Booker Prize Mike McCormack Solar Bones one sentance
Author Mike McCormack. Photo: Dean Kelly/Kennys Bookshop

A novel consisting of a single sentence by Irish author Mike McCormack is favourite to win the prestigious £50,000 Man Booker Prize.

Solar Bones, by Mayo-born McCormack is 244 pages long and doesn’t contain any full stops.

It’s one of 13 novels long-listed for the award, which will be shortened to six in September before the winner is unveiled on 17 October.

Solar Bones follows the stream-of-consciousness recollections of a man named Marcus Conway, a middle-aged engineer from the west of Ireland briefly returned from the dead on All Soul’s Day, November 2008.

Solar Bones was first published by Ireland’s Tramp Press in 2016, but Booker rules require novels to be published in the UK. It is now eligible having been picked up by Canongate.

Mike McCormack

McCormack’s book has already picked up the £10,000 Goldsmiths Prize for 2016, which recognises fiction at its most novel.

Collecting his award, McCormack said: “It’s about time the prize-giving community honoured experimental works and time that mainstream publishers started honouring their readership by saying: ‘Here are experimental books’.

“Readers are smart. They’re up for it. That was what the people at Tramp Press taught me – they’re up for it. There are readers out there and they have been proved right.

“I didn’t think I was going to win. It would have been too much of a fairy tale on top of a fairy tale of getting the book published and it being critically well-received. That was it; I didn’t think it was going to go any further, but it has.”

Mike McCormack

Solar Bones isn’t the only Irish book on the Man Booker Prize long-list, with Days Without End by Dublin author Sebastian Barry also nominated.

Barry’s Costa award-winning novel follows Thomas McNulty from his home in famine-stricken Ireland across the Atlantic to the US where he meets a fresh set of traumas, including the civil war, as well as finding a profound love with a fellow soldier.

This year’s longlist of 13 books was selected by a panel of five judges: Baroness Lola Young (Chair); literary critic, Lila Azam Zanganeh; Man Booker Prize shortlisted novelist, Sarah Hall; artist, Tom Phillips CBE RA; and travel writer, Colin Thubron CBE.

The list was chosen from 144 submissions published in the UK between 1 October 2016 and 30 September 2017.

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction, first awarded in 1969, is open to writers of any nationality, writing in English and published in the UK.

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