For the past few years, Irish writers have dominated the literary competition, which recognizes the best original work of fiction written in English by a citizen of either the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. Wexford man John Banville won in 2005 for “The Sea” and Dubliner Anne Enright took home the prize in 2007 for “The Gathering.”
This year, British writers A.S. Byatt, Adam Foulds, Hilary Mantel, Simon Mawer and Sarah Waters, as well as South African and Australian novelist J.M. Coetzee, are all nominated for the prestigious fiction prize.
The two Irish titles and Irish-Canadian novel on the 2009 longlist were surprisingly scratched. Powerhouse Cork-born writer William Trevor, who’s been shortlisted for the Booker Prize four times, didn’t even make the cut for the shortlist this year with his new novel “Love and Summer.”
Other longlist contenders who weren’t chosen were Wexford native and the two-time Booker shortlisted Colm Toibin’s “Brooklyn” and Irish Canadian Ed O’Loughlin’s “Not True & Not Unkind.”
Several critically acclaimed Irish novels were not recognized at all in the 2009 Booker competition.
Banville’s highly anticipated new novel “The Infinities” was absent from the list, as well as 1982 Booker winner Irish-Australian Thomas Keneally’s novel “The People’s Train.”
Bookies are putting their money on Hilary Mantel’s historical novel “Wolf Hall,” which is set in Henry VIII’s court. If J.M. Coetzee takes home the prize for “Summertime,” he will be the first author to win the Booker three times.
The full shortlist for the 2009 Man Booker Prize is as follows:
A.S. Byatt “The Children’s Book” (Chatto and Windus)
J.M. Coetzee “Summertime” (Harvill Secker)
Adam Foulds “The Quickening Maze” (Jonathan Cape)
Hilary Mantel “Wolf Hall” (Fourth Estate)
Simon Mawer “The Glass Room” (Little, Brown)
Sarah Waters “The Little Stranger” (Virago)