Wednesday, August 08, 2007

TAN Twan Eng is on the 2007 Man Booker Prize longlist!

MALAYSIAN Tan Twan Eng has made it to the 2007 Man Booker Prize for Fiction longlist for his first novel, The Gift of Rain (Myrmidon, 2007), it was announced last night. Congratulations, Twan Eng!

Tan Twan Eng’s much-anticipated début novel, The Gift of Rain is a literary feast of a novel set in the tropical climes of Penang island during the Japanese Occupation of Malaya, told with much lyricism, meditativeness and assuredness of touch. The Gift of Rain tells the story of Philip Hutton, a 16-year-old Anglo-Chinese boy who is forced into collaborating with the Japanese when they occupy his tropical island home of Penang during World War II. Tan has written an atmospheric and well-realised piece of fiction that all Malaysians will be proud of. Penang in the 1930s and ’40s is not just deftly painted in broad brushstrokes, but brought to life in great detail. I remember first listening to a reading of his work in January 2007, and I knew then that we had a winning novel in him.

It’s good to see many new names on the longlist of one of the world’s most prestigious literary honours as long as good writing remain one of the criteria. What’s conspicuous is the absence of literary heavyweights on the list. The only established writers on the list are Ian McEwan and A.N. Wilson. The question is, Will McEwan join the ranks of J.M. Coetzee and Peter Carey as novelists who have won the Booker Prize twice? (Or Booker Prize-winner Salman Rushdie who also won the Booker of Bookers, a special award to celebrate 25 years of the Booker Prize for Fiction, in 1993.)

There are four first-time novelists and several less-familiar ones on the longlist: Peter Ho Davies, Nikita Lalwani, Catherine O’Flynn and Tan Twan Eng. Peter Ho Davies, though longlisted for his first novel, The Welsh Girl (2007), is the author of two well-reviewed collections of stories: The Ugliest House in the World (1998) and Equal Love (2000). Consolation (2006) is Canadian poet and novelist Michael Redhill’s second novel after Martin Sloane (2001) and a collection of stories, Fidelity (2003). Catherine O’Flynn was longlisted for the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction, but did not get shortlisted. The last time a first-time novelist won the Booker Prize was in 1997: Arundhati Roy for The God of Small Things (1997). Will this be the year that a début novelist gets the prize for the best in literary fiction?

Here’s the official longlist:

1. Darkmans (Fourth Estate) / Nicola Barker
2. Self Help (Picador) / Edward Docx
3. The Gathering (Jonathan Cape) / Anne Enright
4. The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Hamish Hamilton) / Mohsin Hamid
5. The Welsh Girl (Sceptre) / Peter Ho Davies
6. Mister Pip (John Murray) / Lloyd Jones
7. Gifted (Viking) / Nikita Lalwani
8. On Chesil Beach (Jonathan Cape) / Ian McEwan
9. What Was Lost (Tindal Street) / Catherine O’Flynn
10. Consolation (William Heinemann) / Michael Redhill
11. Animal’s People (Simon and Schuster) / Indra Sinha
12. The Gift of Rain (Myrmidon) / Tan Twan Eng
13. Winnie and Wolf (Hutchinson) / A.N. Wilson

The 2007 shortlist will be announced on Thursday, September 6, 2007. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, October 16, 2007, in London.


Blogger bibliobibuli said...

you got there first !!!!!

i'm so happpppyyyyy

now tell your friends at mph to display the book prominently and put up a big big sign!!!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007 5:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Way to go, Twan Eng!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007 6:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Eric and Sharon!

Warmest regards,
Tan Twan Eng

Tuesday, August 07, 2007 6:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the Booker Prize only considers full-length novels - not novellas. So, why is Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach - a novella - on the longlist?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007 7:48:00 PM  
Blogger Lydia Teh said...

Yay for Tan Twan Eng!! Can't help feeling a surge of pride. I hope he wins it.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007 8:25:00 PM  
Blogger Eric Forbes said...

Yes, Lydia, we are all real happy for Twan Eng.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007 10:43:00 PM  
Blogger Eric Forbes said...

Anon - I think it's really up to the panel of judges to decide on that.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007 10:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chesil Beach probably read like a novel to the judges lah - "Oh gawd, it seems to go and on and on, like Celine Dion's heart."

Tuesday, August 07, 2007 10:49:00 PM  
Blogger Eric Forbes said...

That's an interesting way of looking at Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007 12:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lloyd Jones of New Zealand recently won the 2007 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Fiction.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007 1:18:00 AM  
Blogger Eric Forbes said...

Anon - The length of Ian McEwan's novella, On Chesil Beach, shouldn't be an issue. There are precedents to fall back on. After all, Penelope Fitzgerald's Offshore - which is much shorter than On Chesil Beach - did win the Booker Prize in 1979. Also, this is not a first time for McEwan; two of his books that were shortlisted for the Booker Prize in the past were also novellas: The Comfort of Strangers in 1981 and Amsterdam (which is almost a novel) in 1998. His only novel to be shortlisted was Atonement in 2002.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007 8:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing's for sure: it's quite an international list! There's Canada, India, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, etc.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007 8:04:00 PM  
Anonymous bookaddict said...

I have a signed copy of Tan Twan Eng's The Gift of Rain. I got it signed before he was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. It must have some value now!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007 8:06:00 PM  
Anonymous bookaddict said...

This year there were so many new novels from former Booker Prize winners like Pat Barker, J.M. Coetzee, Thomas Keneally, Penelope Lively, Ian McEwan, Michael Ondaatje and Graham Swift, as well as from past shortlisted authors like Trezza Azzopardi, André Brink, Beryl Bainbridge, Justin Cartwright, Jim Crace, Sarah Hall, Doris Lessing, Patrick McCabe, Rachel Seiffert, Rose Tremain and Gerard Woodward. And not forgetting such novelists as André Brink, John Burnside, Justin Cartwright, Jonathan Coe, Robert Edric, Sebastian Faulks, A.L. Kennedy, Nicholas Shakespeare, Jeanette Winterson and Adam Thorpe. It is real surprising that none of them got longlisted.

Thursday, August 09, 2007 2:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Despite the barrowload of big names as listed above, I'm glad there are some new names to look out for and not the usual hoary old chestnuts.

Thursday, August 09, 2007 4:24:00 AM  
Blogger Eric Forbes said...

Anon - I agree. I will read both old and new writers as long as the novels are well written.

Thursday, August 09, 2007 7:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the cover of Lloyd Jones's Mister Pip.

Friday, August 10, 2007 3:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations to all Malaysians from Singapore! I bet ALL the bookshops in town are festooning posters and promo materials in all their branches to celebrate this major achievement. Us Singaporeans are jealous!

Friday, August 10, 2007 11:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While we in Singapore are celebrating our National Day, Malaysians are celebrating Tan Twan Eng's Booker Prize longlisting! Congratulations, Tan Twan Eng!

Friday, August 10, 2007 4:55:00 PM  
Blogger Eric Forbes said...

Bookshops have only one month to promote the longlisted titles before the shortlist is announced in September.

Friday, August 10, 2007 8:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's not forget that literary prizes are merely arbitrary and many excellent books do not win prizes. One good example is Anita Desai, who was shortlisted three times for Clear Light of Day in 1980, In Custody in 1984 and Fasting, Feasting in 1999, but did not win.

Saturday, August 11, 2007 2:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are four first-time novelists out of which three are first-time authors in the longlist. Peter Ho Davies is a first-time novelist who has published two collections of short stories.

Saturday, August 11, 2007 2:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who are the six on YOUR shortlist?

Sunday, August 12, 2007 6:03:00 AM  
Blogger Eric Forbes said...

I have yet to read all the books on the longlist. But if I have to choose six or seven novels based on what I have read and the excerpts of those I have not read, here is my shortlist:

1. The Gathering (Jonathan Cape) / Anne Enright
2. The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Hamish Hamilton) / Mohsin Hamid
3. The Welsh Girl (Sceptre) / Peter Ho Davies
4. Mister Pip (John Murray) / Lloyd Jones
5. On Chesil Beach (Jonathan Cape) / Ian McEwan
6. Consolation (William Heinemann) / Michael Redhill
7. The Gift of Rain (Myrmidon) / Tan Twan Eng

Sunday, August 12, 2007 6:07:00 AM  
Blogger Eric Forbes said...

William Trevor's Reading Turgenev (1991), a novella, was also shortlisted for the 1991 Booker Prize for Fiction.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007 7:03:00 PM  

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