University of Nottingham academic Jon McGregor’s new novel Reservoir 13 has made the longlist for the Man Booker Prize 2017. Jon, who is Professor of Creative Writing in the University’s School of English, has been longlisted alongside other literary greats Paul Auster and Zadie Smith.
The Man Booker Prize is the leading literary award in the English speaking world for fiction and each prize has the power to transform the winner’s career. From the very beginning of what was originally called the Booker Prize there was just one criterion — the prize would be for ‘the best novel in the opinion of the judges.’ And 45 years later that is still a key sentence in the rules. Former winners include Hilary Mantel for Wolf Hall (2009), Yann Martel for Life of Pi (2002), AS Byatt for Possession (1990) and William Golding for Rites of Passage (1980).
Published by 4th Estate, Reservoir 13 is Jon’s first novel in seven years and opens with a desperate search for a 13-year-old girl, vanished on a moor in the Peak District in the depths of winter. According to The Guardian it is: “An extraordinary novel of cumulative power and grace. Reservoir 13 explores the rhythms of the natural world and the repeated human gift for violence, unfolding over 13 years as the aftershocks of a stranger’s tragedy refuse to subside.”
Stephanie Merritt who writes for The Observer says of the novel: “This is not a thriller; McGregor is not interested in the missing girl’s family, nor the investigating detectives, who remain peripheral figures without names. Instead, the focus is all on the small community disrupted by a tragedy that may or may not have a direct connection with them. The author’s concern is with the way people go on with their lives, not only in the immediate aftermath but over the course of the next 13 years.”
Jon, who is an Honorary Graduate at the University, has been Writer-in-Residence in the School of English since 2012. With the help of students, he edits the literary journal The Letters Page, in which all the pieces, whether stories, poetry or essays, are epistolary.
On being included in the longlist, Professor McGregor said, "I'm obviously delighted to be included on this year's longlist for the Man Booker Prize, especially when such a wealth of great writers have also made it onto the list. Literary prizes always make for lively discussions with the students on the creative writing course, so this will be a good opportunity to bring the topic up again!"
The award-winning novelist and short story writer has previously won the International Dublin IMPAC prize for his novel Even the Dogs in 2012, about an alcoholic who dies at Christmas, and is also famous for his first novel, the Nottingham-inspired If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and short story collection This Isn’t the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You.
The 13 books on the Man Booker Prize 2017 longlist will be reduced to just six books for the shortlist which will be announced on 13 September 2017. The winner will be announced on 17 October 2017 in London’s Guildhall, one of the highlights of the publishing year, and the ceremony will be broadcast by the BBC. The longlist of 13 books was chosen from 144 submissions and was selected by a panel of five judges: Baroness Lola Young (Chair); literary critic, Lila Azam Zangeneh; Man Booker Prize shortlisted novelist, Sarah Hall; artist, Tom Phillips CBE RA; and travel writer, Colin Thubron CBE.
If Jon is shortlisted he will be reading at the Man Booker Prize 2017 Shortlisted Authors Evening on 10 October 2017 at the University’s Djanogly Theatre, Nottingham Lakeside Arts. The evening will present a unique opportunity to hear this year’s shortlisted authors reading from their novels and discussing their work, followed by a Q&A and book signing. The ticketed event will be presented in partnership with Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature. Nottingham became the eighteenth UNESCO City of Literature in December 2015. The city is well known for its literary heroes DH Lawrence, Lord Byron and Alan Sillitoe, and boasts a diverse literary community.
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