Introducing the 13 novels in contention for Britain’s most prestigious literary award، the guardian reported.
Belinda Bauer won the CWA gold dagger in 2010 with Blacklands and the Theakston prize in 2014 with Rubbernecker. Her latest thriller returns to 1998 and is set in motion when Catherine disappears on the M5، leaving 11-year-old Jack in charge of his younger sisters. Writing in the Guardian، Laura Wilson called it ‘an intelligent mystery، written with razor-sharp observation and wry humour’.
Anna Burns pitches the reader into the heart of the Troubles in this story of a young woman pursued by a senior paramilitary figure. Writing in the Guardian، Claire Kilroy saluted the novel’s ‘digressive، batty narrative voice’ and its Beckettian ability to ‘trace the logical within the absurd’.
The first graphic novel ever to be longlisted for the Booker prize is Nick Drnaso’s story of a young woman who disappears. Writing in the Guardian، Chris Ware called it ‘deeply unnerving … a perspicacious and chilling analysis of the nature of trust and truth and the erosion of both in the age of the internet – and especially، in the age of Trump’.
Esi Edugyan plunges into the 19th century، opening with watchful، 11-year-old George Washington Black cutting sugar cane and doing his best to survive on a Barbados plantation owned by sadistic Englishman Erasmus Wilde. One day ‘Wash’ is plucked from the fields to help Wilde’s scientist brother with his experimental airship The Cloud-cutter. Due to be published in August، this evocative، page-turning adventure sees ‘Wash’ travel from the Caribbean to the Arctic in search of freedom.
Guy Gunaratne’s debut takes the temperature of a north London housing estate during an unquiet summer. Told in the voices of those ‘with elsewhere in their blood’، it conjures up their interlocking lives against a backdrop of tower blocks، riots and a murdered off-duty soldier. Writing in the Guardian، Shahidha Bari hailed this ‘tinderbox of a novel’ that ‘captures a feeling of foreboding، the sense of a future that is uncertain and volatile’.
In her first novel، Daisy Johnson examines the troubled relationship between a mother and her daughter. Writing in the Observer، Anthony Cummins called it ‘an eerie melodrama in which the bloodshed seems more mimed than motivated – and which tosses، almost in passing، a grenade into debates over self-determination، luridly staging the supremacy of biological fact’.
The Mars Room is set in Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility in California where Romy Hall is about to begin two consecutive life sentences. Rachel Kushner’s research took her inside prisons from where she has produced a bleakly realistic portrayal of the prison-industrial complex. Guardian reviewer Lisa Allardice hailed an ‘unflinching portrayal of what it means to be poor and female in America’ in which ‘Kushner’s prose fizzes as dangerously as the electric fence around Stanville، her observations spiky as barbed wire، her humour desert-sky dark’.
Sophie Mackintosh takes the reader to a house on an island، where three girls live with their mother and King. But their world is upended when King vanishes and three men are washed up on the beach. Writing in the Guardian، Cal Revely-Calder said the novel is written ‘in the way that Sofia Coppola would shoot the end of the world: everything is luminous، precise، slow to the point of dread’.
Fresh from his triumph in the Golden Booker، Michael Ondaatje returns to London in 1945 to explore memory and childhood. Writing in the Observer، Alex Preston paid tribute to Ondaatje’s skill in ‘telling a familiar story... in a way that gives us all the pleasures of the genre without ever feeling hackneyed or predictable. It’s as if WG Sebald wrote a Bond novel.’
Richard Powers has written about environmental issues before، but as he told the Guardian earlier this year، this time he came at the subject with a new intensity. ‘We say we should manage our resources better. What I was taking seriously for the first time in this book was: they’re not our resources; and we won’t be well until we realise that.’ The history of a family، and the trees they planted، come together in a novel، said reviewer Benjamin Markovits، ‘whose context is wider than human life. Like Moby-Dick، The Overstory leaves you with a slightly adjusted frame of reference.’
The poet Robin Robertson weaves together verse and prose as he follows D-Day veteran Walker from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco in search of an accommodation with the violence of war. Writing in the Guardian، John Banville called it ‘a beautiful، vigorous and achingly melancholy hymn to the common man that is as unexpected as it is daring’.
Sally Rooney’s follow-up to last year’s hit debut Conversations With Friends، Normal People (published in September) follows Connell and Marianne from school in small town Ireland to university in Dublin، exploring love، friendship and coming of age with wit and honesty. Reviewing her debut، Claire Kilroy observed that ‘Rooney writes so well of the condition of being a young، gifted but self-destructive woman، both the mentality and physicality of it. She is alert to the invisible bars imprisoning the apparently free.’
The Guardian First book award winner Donal Ryan charts the stories of a Syrian refugee، a crooked accountant and an angry young man with a broken heart. Writing in the Guardian، John Boyne recalled how the revelation that ties these strands together made him swear aloud in Dublin airport، hailing the way Ryan fills his books ‘with love and righteous anger، most of which lurks darkly beneath the surface ready to explode like an ill-judged comment at a family gathering’.