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Dublin: 2°C Sunday 17 January 2021

Sebastian Barry makes Man Booker longlist

Irish author makes list of 13 authors vying for prestigious literary prize for his novel On Canaan’s Side.

Author Sebastian Barry
Author Sebastian Barry
Image: Jenny Duval/EMPICS entertainment

IRISH NOVELIST SEBASTIAN Barry has been named as one of 13 authors longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2011. He has been nominated for his novel On Canaan’s Side.

The Dublin author has twice ended up on the shortlist for the prestigious prize, in 2008 for The Secret Scripture and in 2005 for A Long Long Way). Barry won the Costa Novel Award for The Secret Scripture in 2009. The Man Booker Prize is worth £50,000 sterling to the overall winner but also gives a recognised boost to sales of the winner and those books on the shortlist. The six finalists who will end up on the shortlist will be announced on 6 September, and the overall winner on 18 October.

On Canaan’s Side is Barry’s fifth novel and it features members of the fictional Dunne family who appeared previously in his novel A Long Long Way and also in his play, The Steward of Christendom. The Guardian described it as a “lyrical evocation of trauma and exile” and the Irish Independent, while finding some fault with characterisation of minor characters, found it “another arresting novel by one of our finest writers”.

The narrator Lilly Bere is a fictional sister to Willie Dunne, the tragic protaganist of A Long Long Way. While that novel exiled Willie to the blood-riven fields of France in World War I, On Canaan’s Side tracks the altogether different exile of Lilly, who takes up with a Black and Tan and is forced to flee to America.

Four first-time novelists are on the Man Booker longlist – Stephen Kelman, AD Miller, Yvette Edwards and Patrick McGuinness.

The full list is:

  • Julian Barnes The Sense of an Ending (Jonathan Cape – Random House)
  • Sebastian Barry On Canaan’s Side (Faber)
  • Carol Birch Jamrach’s Menagerie (Canongate Books)
  • Patrick deWitt The Sisters Brothers (Granta)
  • Esi Edugyan Half Blood Blues (Serpent’s Tail – Profile)
  • Yvvette Edwards A Cupboard Full of Coats (Oneworld)
  • Alan Hollinghurst The Stranger’s Child (Picador – Pan Macmillan)
  • Stephen Kelman Pigeon English (Bloomsbury)
  • Patrick McGuinness The Last Hundred Days (Seren Books)
  • A.D. Miller Snowdrops (Atlantic)
  • Alison Pick Far to Go (Headline Review)
  • Jane Rogers The Testament of Jessie Lamb (Sandstone Press)
  • D.J. Taylor Derby Day (Chatto & Windus – Random House)

The Arts Council of Ireland extended its congratulations to Barry on making the longlist. Sarah Bannan, head of Literature, said:

Sebastian Barry is a writer of tremendous gifts and lyrical power, and his long and varied career demonstrates his absolute commitment to the craft of writing. His latest novel, On Canaan’s Side, once again reveals Barry’s acute understanding of human experience and his linguistic grace.
This is Barry introducing a reading from The Secret Scripture, explaining its origin in the poignant tale of his own great aunt who was admitted to an asylum in the 1940s for “moral reasons, that is to say possibly because she had a child”:

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