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Longlist author insights - What has it been like to be longlisted?

Longlist author insights - What has it been like to be longlisted?

With the shortlist announcement just days away now on the 11th September we find out from this years' Man Booker Dozen what it felt like to be longlisted.

What has it been like to be longlisted?

Nicola Barker: Not to blow my own trumpet (she parps, unabashedly), but I've been long listed before so my response was one of delight, naturally, and gratitude - because books always require the oxygen of publicity - but also a measure of anxiety. The long listing arrived the day after I'd completed my publicity schedule for The Yips and I was secretly looking forward to never talking about golf again. That reaction lasted all of 30 seconds. Now I long to discuss golf again. I love golf! I live for golf! People avoid me at bus stops.

Ned Beauman: The effect on my sales has of course been steroidal, and it's very strange to think of such a wide audience of people reading (and perhaps enjoying) what I had always thought of as such a spiky and personal book. The process of writing it was quite unpleasant so it's fantastic that this has come out of that. Also, basically as a direct result of the longlisting, I am going to Niagara Falls.

André Brink: Longlisting is obviously only one very short step on a long way, so it is not wise to allow the ordinary course of things to be disrupted. But everybody knows that the longest journey begins with the first step, and Philida knows all about walking,  so she is patiently taking everything in her stride.

Tan Twan Eng: It’s difficult for new writers like me, who is not part of the established rank of authors in the UK, to get my novels more widely reviewed and read, so being longlisted for the second time, and for my second novel, is a tremendous boost. It’s a great honour too, to be longlisted with so many authors I admire and respect. It’s also a vindication for the countless rewrites I did for The Garden of Evening Mists - I kept pushing back deadline after deadline before I felt the novel was finally ready. My agent and publisher despaired about whether I would ever finish it, but I wanted it to be as perfect as possible.

Michael Frayn: Like the scent of roses on a summer afternoon, or possibly the cry of the curlew on a winter morning.

Rachel Joyce: It came as a complete surprise so it has been wonderful, bewildering and sometimes I have to check it is still real. I see it as a great honour.

Deborah Levy: There was already a great deal of interest and debate about Swimming Home, but this was massively accelerated within days of the long list announcement. It sold to the USA and Canada, foreign rights picked up and many new readers in the UK were introduced to my novel. This is all the more thrilling because it is a huge triumph for my publishers’ mission statement, which amongst other brilliant things, is to publish “mind blowing literary fiction”- at a time when mainstream publishing was nervous it would not prosper in a tough economic climate.  

Hilary Mantel: Encouraging.

Alison Moore: Finding out I’d been longlisted was a moment of intense, overwhelming pleasure. The news had an unreal quality, as if I were in a “choose your own adventure” book. I’m thrilled that people are reading and rereading and discussing the book. It’s wonderful getting so much positive feedback – I’m feeling very buoyed up by the smashing reviews. This being my first novel, the various newspaper, radio, TV and podcast interviews have been a new and surprisingly enjoyable experience. It’s all very interesting. My neighbours are reading me in their book groups, which feels quite strange!

Will Self: Good. It's the novel that's been longlisted - not me; and just completed novels are like young adult children who've just left home - you want them to make their own way in the world, but are heartened when they receive the comfort of strangers.

Jeet Thayil: I had no idea it would be such a roller coaster. In India, the Man Booker Prize is a big deal, which I knew of course. I didn’t know how big a deal until the phone calls and emails started to come in, not just to me, but to my parents, who live in Bangalore. My novel was launched in India about six months ago, but you wouldn’t have known: it wasn’t noticeable in the bookshops until after the longlist was announced. I worked on the book for five fairly difficult years, in that I didn’t have a job and I was living small, under the radar in many ways, putting everything I had into the writing. In short, I’m trying not to use the word “life-changing” here, but I guess I just did.

Sam Thompson: Confusing! Obviously I was thrilled, but as a first-time writer you also feel very undeserving when you’re put on a list with authors whose work you’ve read and admired for years. I wrote Communion Town in the way I imagine anyone writes a first book, not really expecting it to find a publisher or to be read except by a few tolerant friends - so the best thing about getting published in the first place, and then about being longlisted, has been discovering that there are readers out there who've found something worthwhile in the book and have enjoyed spending time with it.


2012 Longlist