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The Man Booker Prize announces its 2012 longlist

July 25, 2012|By Carolyn Kellogg
  • Hilary Mantel's "Bringing Up the Bodies" and "The Teleportation Accident" by Ned Beauman are two of 12 books that are longlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize.
Hilary Mantel's "Bringing Up the Bodies" and "The…

England's most coveted literary prize for new fiction, the Man Booker, announced its longlist Wednesday. A dozen books are in the running for the 2012 prize; in September those will be be whittled down to a shortlist of six. One will win the prize, worth more than $77,000, at a gala celebration in October.

Between now and then there will be much speculation about who will ultimately take the prize. Many will look first to Hilary Mantel, the only previous Booker prize winner on the longlist. Her new novel, "Bring Up The Bodies," is another history of Thomas Cromwell and Tudor England. The book is a sequel to "Wolf Hall," which won the 2009 Man Booker Prize and was a bestseller.

Of the 12 books in the running for the 2012 prize, four are debut novels and three books were published by small independents. The authors range in age from 27 to 78; seven are men and five are women; they come from England, India, South Africa and Malaysia.

The Man Booker's judging panel changes each year, and in addition to literary lions often includes a bookish pop culture figure. This year, that judge is Dan Stevens, the actor known in America for playing Cousin Matthew on "Downton Abbey."

The 2012 Man Booker Prize longlist, with our brief notes about the books and authors, is below.

"The Yips" by Nicola Barker. She was longlisted for the Man Booker in 2004 for "Clear" and shortlisted for the 2007 prize for "Darkmans." "The Yips" is a comic novel about a golfer with an unsteady hand. Not yet available in the U.S.

"The Teleportation Accident" by Ned Beauman. At 27, Beauman is the youngest author on the list. A comedy that ties together 20th century Berlin, Cal Tech in 1938 and 17th century Paris. Set to be published in the U.S. in March 2013.

"Philida" by André Brink. Brink, who has twice been shortlisted for the Man Booker prize, is the author of "A Dry White Season," a classic novel of racial injustice in South Africa. "Philida," about the hopes of a South African slave in the 1830s on the verge of liberation, is not yet available in the U.S.

"The Garden of Evening Mists" by Tan Twan Eng. Eng's first novel was longlisted for the Man Booker; "The Garden of Evening Mists" is his second. Set in Malaysia in 1951, it follows the survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp; her retreat to the jungle highlands brings her in contact with the Japanese emperor's exiled gardener. It will be published in the U.S. in September.

"Skios" by Michael Frayn. Frayn, who is the eldest contender at 78, has once been shortlisted for the Man Booker. "Skios" is a farce set on a Greek island where pompous academics and sexy weekends collide. It was published in the U.S. in June.

"The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" by Rachel Joyce. This is the first novel for Joyce, who has previously written for BBC radio and television. It's the story of a man who sets out to walk 600 miles across England to reach a dying friend. It was published in the U.S. this week.

"Swimming Home" by Deborah Levy. A group of tourists in the French Riviera begin to come apart over the course of a week in this elliptical novel. It is not yet available in the U.S.

"Bring up the Bodies" by Hilary Mantel. In addition to winning the Man Booker with "Wolf Hall," this is Mantel's second time being longlisted for the prize. Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and Jane Seymour tangle in her latest historical novel. It was published in the U.S. in May.

"The Lighthouse" by Alison Moore. Born in 1971, Moore has been claiming the attention of prize juries for her short fiction and a novella; this is her first time on the Booker longlist. In "The Lighthouse," a middle-aged man takes a walking trip in Germany, his mind circling back to a boyhood visit there with his father after his mother had left them. It is not yet available in the U.S.

"Umbrella" by Will Self. An award-winning comic novelist, Self has set "Umbrella" in a North London mental hospital in 1971, where a maverick psychiatrist treats a woman whose mind flits back to Edwardian England. The book will be published in the U.S. by Grove/Atlantic in January 2013.

"Narcopolis" by Jeet Thayil. Thayil's debut novel is set partly in an underworld 1970s Bombay, in and around an opium den, and partly in contemporary India. The book was published in the U.S. by the Penguin Press in April.

"Communion Town" by Sam Thompson. This is Thompson's first novel, described aptly by its subtitle, "A City in Ten Chapters." Published earlier this month in the U.K., it is not yet available in the U.S.

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