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Neel Mukherjee in Booker Prize Longlist

H S Rao and Aditi Khanna/London

Neel Mukherjee, a Kolkata-born British citizen, today emerged as the only Indian-origin writer to be named in this year's Man Booker Prize longlist of authors vying for the prize in its debut as a global literary award.

London-based Mukherjee has been selected for his second novel, The Lives of Others, published in May this year.

The book is based in the author's birth place of Kolkata and centres around a dysfunctional Ghosh family in the 1960s.

Mukherjee, who went on to study at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, reviews fiction for the Times and the Sunday Telegraph.

His first novel A Life Apart was a joint winner of the Vodafone-Crossword Award in India.

There are six novels from Britain, five from the US, one from Australia and one from Ireland shortlisted for the prize.

For the first time in its 46-year history, the 50,000 pounds prize has been opened up to writers of any nationality, writing originally in English and published in the UK.

Previously, the prize was open to authors from the UK & Commonwealth, Republic of Ireland and Zimbabwe.

First awarded in 1969, the prize is recognised as the touchstone for high quality literary fiction written in English.

Australia's Richard Flanagan is the only non-British representative of the Commonwealth on the 13-strong list, while US novelists fill four spots.

The British novels are J by Howard Jacobson, The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth, The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, The Lives of Others by Mukherjee, Us by David Nicholls and How To Be Both by Ali Smith.

In the event, judges chose four Americans: Joshua Ferris, Siri Hustvedt, Karen Joy Fowler and Richard Powers. An Irish-born US resident Joseph O'Neill was also named in the list.

Irishman Niall Williams made it to the list for his History of the Rain.

Former winner Howard Jacobson is in the running again, even as some high-profile names, including Ian McEwan and Donna Tartt failed to make the list.

The rules of the prize changed at the end of 2013, to embrace "the freedom of English in all its vigour, its vitality, its versatility and its glory wherever it may be", opening up to writers beyond the UK and Commonwealth.

A total of 154 books were entered for this year's prize by UK publishers, of which 44 titles were by authors who are now eligible under the new rule changes.

Commonwealth submissions totaled 31 for this year, as compared with 43 in 2013.

Chair of the 2014 judges A C Grayling, said, "This is a diverse list of ambition, experiment, humour and artistry. The novels selected are full of wonderful stories and fascinating characters."

"The judges were impressed by the high quality of writing and the range of issues tackled -- from 1066 to the future, from a PoW camp in Thailand, to a dentist's chair in Manhattan; from the funny to the deeply serious, sometimes in the same book."

The previous noted winners of the award include many of the literary trailblazers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries like Salman Rushdie, Hilary Mantel, Iris Murdoch and Peter Carey.

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The full list:

  • History of the Rain by Niall Williams
  • How to be Both by Ali Smith
  • J by Howard Jacobson
  • Orfeo by Richard Powers
  • The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt
  • The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
  • The Dog by Joseph O’Neill
  • The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee
  • The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
  • The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth
  • To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris
  • Us by David Nicholls
  • We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

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PLACES: UK
SECTION: Books
OUTLOOK 23 July, 2014
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