The longlist for the Man Booker Prize 2013 is out although several of the selected books are not (update: publishers have rush released titles to meet demand). This year the judges have picked an unpredictable, international list of 13 books for the literary prize and we have them in stock here at the Riverside. Click on the images below for a gallery of the nominees and look out for The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri, the final title published in September. The £50,000 prize is awarded on 15 October.
Get £2 off the Booker winner’s backlist
To mark the paperback of Bring Up The Bodies (£9.99), the sequel to Wolf Hall (both of them Booker Prize winners), we’re offering £2 off the author’s earlier books. So it’s a chance to explore her epic take on the French Revolution, A Place of Greater Safety, the haunting novel of life in Saudi Arabia, Eight Months on Ghazzah Street, and the remarkable memoir Giving Up the Ghost while you wait for Mantel’s next Tudor novel, The Mirror and the Light.
Now in paperback – £8.99
Ned Beauman published a precociously confident debut novel, Boxer, Beetle, in 2010. He’s followed that with an audacious comic romp that made the Man Booker Prize longlist. The globe-trotting story begins in Berlin in 1931 where sex-starved set designer Egon Loeser is working on a production about his 17th century stagecraft hero, the mysterious Adriano Lavicini, and his Extraordinary Mechanism for the Almost Instantaneous Transportation of Persons from Place to Place. As a result of Loeser’s self-obsession and his desire for a former pupil called Adele Hitler, he fails to take much notice of the rise of her namesake. Loeser’s wilful political ignorance sets up some bad taste but very funny jokes that tease the reader’s familiarity with 1930s Nazi notoriety.
Beauman flirts outrageously with genre fiction: H.P. Lovecraft is an influence and his story The Shadow Over Innsmouth plays a part in the plot’s science fiction elements. Then there’s Loeser’s pursuit of a serial killer and his inability to read anything other than the brutish crime stories of (fictional) author Stent Mutton – perhaps the Lee Child of his day. The Teleportation Accident is a highly readable, amiably bizarre novel that’s unafraid to play with structure and has a serious point to make about history being a nightmare from which you really need to wake up.
Novels depicting cities tend towards prolixity – Edward Rutherfurd’s doorstop volumes are intimidating me from the Riverside shelves as I write this – but Sam Thompson’s debut is a perfectly formed narrative that relies on its idiosyncratic characters: you wander the streets in their shoes rather than having to swallow endless descriptions of historical buildings and byways. Thompson’s unnamed, imaginary city (Communion Town is just one of its districts) leaves you both mystified and awestruck over the course of 10 ‘chapters’; it’s not really a novel, though it did make the Man Booker Prize longlist, presumably because the writing was just too good to ignore.
There are loosely connected stories of odd couples, unequal friendships and isolated workers whose frailties are exposed by the city’s indifference. Communion Town is speculative rather than realist fiction and there’s a haunting, recurring image of the flâneur that lends a dream-like quality to the prose. Thompson’s trump card is his magpie approach to genre including Chandler-esque detective fiction, a Sherlock Holmes style adventure with a metaphysical twist, and the sort of visionary horror that Arthur Machen employed to turn London into a sinister dreamscape. Communion Town is a book that will benefit from repeated readings: each time you pick it up, the imaginary streets will feel as alive with possibility and strangeness as our own metropolis.