You are here

Longlisted author Q&A: What has it been like to be longlisted?

Longlisted author Q&A: What has it been like to be longlisted?

What has it been like to be longlisted?

Tash Aw: It's been exciting to see my name amidst those of so many excellent writers, and to gain greater visibility for my novel, but mainly I feel fortunate. There's always a lot of discussion of the books that do and don't make the longlist, and I appreciate that there's an element of luck in getting this far – it feels as if I'm in a prize draw with lots of clever, bookish people.

NoViolet Bulawayo: It came as a shock as I had no idea my work had been submitted, but thankfully Facebook sometimes helps things sink in faster – I remember I logged on and there were scores of lovely messages from friends and readers, which kind of made everything real so, well, I just joined the party. It's such a wonderful compliment, and I must say I'm more excited for We Need New Names as a Zimbabwean novel, and what the recognition means for our writing. It's a national event and we're pleased.

Eleanor Catton: There has been no end of fuss here in New Zealand. Only three New Zealanders have been longlisted for the Man Booker before this year – one of whom, Keri Hulme, went on to win the prize in 1985 – so the news has made headlines around the country, and my phone has been ringing constantly since the announcement was made. I feel very grateful for all the good wishes and excitement, but at the same time, very exposed. It’s been a little overwhelming.

Jim Crace: I’m cautiously delighted, but trying not to dwell on it.

Eve Harris: Incredible. Like I’ve been transported to another planet. I’ve gone from worrying about no one noticing my book on the shelves to being inundated with requests for interviews and appearances. This is the first book I’ve ever written and to be longlisted has been a humbling and overwhelming experience.

Richard House: Astounding. I was on the back of a bus in Iceland when the messages started coming through, so I was making calls to confirm that this was true without making too much fuss (perhaps shouting “Oh my God” didn’t help). The list was officially announced when I was standing beside a geyser waiting for it to blow: a perfect moment. It took a while to check out the other nominees – which was a second surprise as the list is impressive, various and alive.

            I’m especially happy because the book involved a huge commitment from the publisher. There’s a team at Picador who are mightily pleased and equally delighted. There’s plenty of anxiety at the moment regarding novels, publishing, paper or digital – it’s all untested – which makes this an exciting period to be writing – so I'm lucky to have a publisher for The Kills eager to push development, take some risks, and see what’s out there. Being longlisted is the best encouragement; hopefully it will inspire some other adventurous developments. It’s amazing.

Jumpha Lahiri: I am incredibly honoured that The Lowland has been included among the other long-listed novels, and to be in the company of such gifted authors from all over the world. The Man Booker Prize has a global sensibility, and its visionary embrace of nations, of literary traditions, and of diverse creative voices means a great deal to me personally. The nomination feels greatly reassuring, given that the book has yet to be published. I am so grateful to the committee for welcoming it in this way.

Alison MacLeod: Absolute joy. It means such a lot – more than I can say here – to have the five to six years of writing labour on this book and my belief in the story rewarded with such an acknowledgement by judges I respect. Beyond that, there’s the massive relief of knowing that Unexploded has found and will continue to find many a good home and reader. You worry for a book until it’s secure in the world. Now there’s the happiness of discovering that my publishers are already printing the third edition – I think I’ve got that right – three weeks before it was originally due to be released. The annual Man Booker ritual is one I’ve followed since I started to write seriously at the age of 22. To be a part of it this year – more than 20 years after I wrote my first real story – is a huge honour.

Colum McCann: It felt like a return home for me. I knew I was writing a novel with obvious British and Irish overtones, and in the end the novel truly belongs in Northern Ireland, where I spent so many of my childhood summers. I’ve written eight books and it was my first time to be longlisted. I got the news early in the morning so I didn’t pop the champagne immediately, and I certainly didn’t start shaking the dust off the tuxedo jacket, but it felt as if many years of work had come to fruition. And I was grateful for that, deeply grateful.

Charlotte Mendelson: I'd love to be grand and off-hand about it, but the truth is that it was completely unexpected and thrilling. I was on the bus to work when my editor rang me; I think the other passengers were faintly mystified.

Ruth Ozeki: Well, it’s the novel that’s been longlisted, not me, but I think I’m speaking for both of us when I say that it’s been absolutely thrilling. It’s an honour to be a part of such a distinguished cohort of titles, and now I am determined to read as many of the others as I can in the next two months. I’m pleased, too, because I’m a citizen of the Commonwealth by choice, not by birth, and so this is a nice opportunity to say thank you. Really, that’s what prizes are. An occasion to say thank you.

Donal Ryan: I’ve been determined to avoid words like rollercoaster and speechless but they creep unbidden into every answer to this question. So I might as well admit that I was unable to form intelligible sentences for a few hours after hearing the news, which was quite inconvenient as my phone kept ringing. I’ve almost stopped vacillating wildly between joy and terror now and am mostly suffused with a warm feeling of happiness.

Colm Tóibín: It is nice that some people liked the book.