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Two Irish writers have been longlisted for the prestigious Man Booker Prize

Mike McCormack and Sebastian Barry are two of the 13 writers who made the longlist.

Mike McCormack after winning his Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Award.
Mike McCormack after winning his Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Award.
Image: Patrick Bolger

TWO IRISH WRITERS have been named on the longlist for one of literature’s most prestigious awards, the Man Booker Prize.

Mike McCormack’s novel Solar Bones and Sebastian Barry’s Days Without End are two of the 13 novels longlisted for the prize.

Previous winner Arundhati Roy has also made the longlist for her book The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, alongside Swing Time by Zadie Smith and The Underground Railroad, the critically acclaimed novel by US writer Colson Whitehead.

The longlist was chosen from 144 submissions published in the UK since last October.

This is the third time that Sebastian Barry has been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Days Without End tells the story of an Irish man who emigrates to the US in the build-up to the civil war.

Mike McCormack’s book - which is often described as a ‘one-sentence’ novel due to the fact it contains no full stops – explores a Mayo council worker’s reflections on his life on All Souls’ Day in 2008.

There has been an incredible reception for the book: it also won the 2016 Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book of the Year award and the Goldsmiths Prize.

McCormack’s Irish publishers, Tramp Press (who we profiled last year), said: “We are thrilled for Mike and his incredible novel, which was first published in May of 2016 in Dublin.”

The novel’s British publishers are Canongate. McCormack himself said that he is “thrilled to be longlisted, and so happy for those who put their faith in such an experimental flight – my publishers, Tramp Press and Canongate, and my agent Marianne Gunn O Connor”.

Tramp Press’s Lisa Coen and Sarah Davis-Goff added that:

“Working with Mike on this stunning piece of literature has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and watching him get the recognition he deserves as one of the world’s leading literary talents is incredibly gratifying.”

Marianne Gunn O’Connor, Mike’s agent, described Davis Goff and Coen as “formidable”, saying they gave McCormack and his book “a life-line when there was none on the horizon. And then they propelled him on to greatness”.

It was his Goldsmiths Prize win which allowed Gunn O’Connor to bring a UK publisher on board, without whom Solar Bones would not have been eligible for the Man Booker Prize.

“The road to this moment was a long, twisty and also lonesome one but Lisa and Sarah changed everything and both Mike and I will be forever grateful,” added Gunn.

The Mayo writer’s previous works include Getting it in the Head (1995), Notes from a Coma (2005), which was shortlisted for the Irish Book of the Year Award, and Forensic Songs (2012).

The Man Booker Prize (previously the Booker Prize) was established in 1969 and aims to “promote the finest in fiction by rewarding the best novel of the year written in English and published in the United Kingdom”. The winner receives €50,000 while the shortlisted authors – and the winner – receive a cheque for €2,500.

The winner can expect a huge bump in sales as a result, but the longlisted and shortlisted authors are also rewarded with an increase in interest in their work.

Davis-Goff wrote in the Guardian in 2016 about the fact that Irish-published novels are not eligible for the Booker due to a 2013 rule change.

Read: This author’s one-sentence novel is the best Irish book of 2016>

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