The longlist for the Man Booker Prize, one of the most important literary awards for the English speaking world, is now out, and while it’s still shiny and new and we all still think we’ll have time to read every title on it, we should also take a moment to appreciate that it’s one of the most diverse in a long time.
The prize hasn’t exactly been an old boys' club in recent years — out of the 45 previous winners, 15 have been women and 18 have been from somewhere outside of Britain. These still aren’t perfect statistics, but they're better than, say, the Nobel Prize for Literature, which as been around for more than a century and still has managed to give the top prize to only 17 individuals not from either the U.S. or Europe (and to only 13 to women). Still, this year’s Man Booker list is particularly interesting.
The list features 13 authors from seven different countries, and more than half are women. It’s also a great mix of new and established authors. Only two on the list (Jim Crace and Colm Toibin) have been nominated before, and three titles (those by NoViolet Bulawayo, Eve Harris, and Donal Ryan) are debut novels. And one novel, The Spinning Heart by Irish author Donal Ryan was rejected by publishers 47 times before it made it to print. Talk about powering through.
Overall, this list is pretty wonderful, from Bulawayo’s novel about children in her native Zimbabwe to ordained Buddhist priest Ruth Ozeki’s novel involving a mystery surrounding a Hello Kitty lunchbox. And this year I will definitely be able to read them all. I will! I will, I say!