The Irish writer Gerard Donovan was longlisted for his debut novel, Schopenhauer's Telescope, a history-infused philosophical tale of stoicism, death and inhumanity.
The book takes the form of a conversation between two characters - the Baker and the History Teacher - as the Baker digs a hole. Their talk ranges across historical bleak points, from the Battle of Little Big Horn to the bombing of Dresden. The dialogue may be sprightly but the ever-growing hole gives a gnawing sense of menace. Donovan, who now lives in upstate New York where he teaches creative writing, has defined a story as being ‘Something we enter after it has begun and leave before it has finished.’ He once played the guitar professionally.