Fiction at its finest

Weekly Roundup: Second chance for Jeet Thayil and Tan Twan Eng, a new novel from Thomas Keneally and a scathing review from Zoë Heller

11 January 2013

Two of 2012's shortlisted authors – Jeet Thayil (Narcopolis) and Tan Twan Eng (The Garden of Evening Mists) – have a chance at overcoming the disappointment of missing out on the Man Booker by winning its Subcontinental cousin, the Man Asian Literary Prize. The prize, worth $30,000, is for the best novel by an Asian writer either written in or translated into English. The pair have made the five-book shortlist (from 15) but face stiff opposition, not least from the Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk. The winner will be announced on 14th March in Hong Kong.

Thomas Keneally, winner of the Booker Prize in 1982 with Schindler's Ark, has recently published a fine new novel, The Daughters of Mars, about two Australian sisters who get caught up in the First World War. Because he is a former winner the book will automatically be submitted for the 2013 prize. Should he win he will be the oldest winner by a county mile. At the time of the prize Keneally will be 78 and the oldest former winner was William Golding who won with Rites of Passage in 1980 aged 69.

Zoë Heller, MB shortlistee in 2003, is another prize contender …  for the Hatchet Job of the Year award, the self-explanatory gong for the most “fearless” book review. Her eye-watering demolition of fellow Man Bookerite Salman Rushdie's fatwa memoir Joseph Anton is one of the favourites. Martin Amis is there too – Ron Charles in the New York Review of Books was distinctly unimpressed by Lionel Asbo. Andrew Motion, Man Booker chairman in 2010, is also present, courtesy of his going-over by Claire Harman for his Treasure Island novel Silver. All proof perhaps that being on top of your game for the Man Booker is a different thing from staying on it.

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