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The 7 women on the Man Booker longlist

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manbookMore than half the authors on the list this year are women.

After women accounted for just three of thirteen longlisted authors in last year’s Man Booker Prize, the line-up for 2015 is much more balanced.

Announced last week, this year’s longlist includes seven women authors, alongside six men.

Worth £50,000, the award is known for its influence on international bestseller lists, amplifying the careers of winners and nominees on a scale few other prizes can match.

So, who are the seven female authors in the Man Booker spotlight this year?

Irish author Anne Enright is longlisted for her novel ‘The Green Road’.

The story centres on an Irish family whose children have scattered across the globe, and who have been recalled in adulthood for a final Christmas together when their mother decides to sell the house.

Enright is no newcomer to the Man Booker Prize. In 2007, she won the award with ‘The Gathering’, which – reviewer Alex Preston said – also took a playful and self-conscious approach to “expectations of what an Irish novel should do” and “the stereotypical Irish family”.

Born in Morocco and based in the USA, Laila Lalami is longlisted for her novel ‘The Moor’s Account’.

A fictional memoir, the novel explores the 1527 Spanish expedition to the New World through the eyes and voice of a Moroccan slave – Estebanico – who is named in a historical account of the venture. The novel has already received much acclaim, and was a finalist in this year’s Pulitzer Prize.

American author Marilynne Robinson’s ‘Lila’ is the third in a series of novels following the lives of a loosely related set of characters, in the fictional Iowan town of Gilead.

Lila sees a new character enter this small-town world, when the heroine of the title finds shelter in the community’s church.

Lila goes on to establish a relationship with its minister, and the novel explores her struggle to make sense of the suffering and drifting which have characterised her life to this point.

The first novel of the series, Gilead, won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize. And amongst many other accolades, Robinson has twice been nominated for the Man Booker International Prize, in 2011 and 2013.

Indian author Anuradha Roy is on the list for her ‘Sleeping on Jupiter’.

This novel follows the story of Nomita, a young Indian woman who has been raised abroad, and who now returns to India and recalls the traumatic sequence of events which broke up her family when she was aged seven.

Reviewer Meena Kandasamy has praised the book’s effectiveness in exposing the hypocrisies and misogyny spread throughout modern Indian society – from “tourism that celebrates erotic carvings on temple walls while remaining in denial about the sexual abuse of children” to “the ‘progressive’ man who can share a cigarette and whisky with a woman but is still ready to hit her when an argument gets out of hand.”

Previously known for her poetry, New Zealander Anna Smaill makes the longlist with her debut novel, The Chimes.

A dystopia set in a reimagined medieval-like version of London, the story follows two characters who start to realise the strict rules of the mysterious ruling Order are based on lies.

Having forbidden memory itself, this dystopian oligarchy controls the population’s minds through a powerful musical instrument which prevents the forming of new memories. This allows plenty of opportunity for Smaill to draw on her own rich musical vocabulary – she is a trained violinist.

American writer Anne Tyler’s 20th novel, A Spool of Blue Thread, follows three generations of a family, the Baltimore-based Whitshanks.

Slipping back and forward in time over a period of seven decades, the book has drawn praise for its ability to capture the tragedies and comedies of everyday life, and its ability to “keep one absorbed as if it were one’s own family she were describing”.

Tyley’s illustrious career has seen her win many awards, including The Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence in 2012, in recognition of her lifetime achievement to date.

Fellow American Hanya Yanagihara is longlisted for her second novel, A Little Life.

The story starts with four ambitious friends starting out in New York City after graduation, and goes on to track their lives and relationships over the coming decades. As their stars rise and they shape out successful careers for themselves, the group gradually realise that their pivotal member remains dominated by the effects of abuse suffered as a child.

It’s been celebrated for its “subversive” depiction of abuse and suffering, and as “the most ambitious chronicle of the social and emotional lives of gay men to have emerged for many years”.

Formerly limited to entries from novelists in Commonwealth countries, Ireland or Zimbabwe, the Man Booker Prize was opened up to all English-language novels in 2013.

Also longlisted this year are: Marlon James, for A Brief History of Seven Killings; Bill Clegg, for Did You Ever Have a Family; Tom McCarthy, for Satin Island; Chigozie Obioma, for The Fishermen; Andrew O’Hagan, for The Illuminations; and Sunjeev Sahota for The Year of the Runaways.

The shortlist will be announced on 15 September and the winner on 13 October.

So that’s plenty of time in which to read your way through at least some of the fabulously diverse and alluring longlist!

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