NoViolet Bulawayo’s debut novel, We Need New Names , has been longlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, joining 12 other books which will compete for one of the publishing world’s most prestigious awards. Bulawayo is one of three debut novelists whose books made the list – the others being Eve Harris and Donal Ryan.
In We Need New Names, we meet Darling, who is only 10 years old. In In Zimbabwe, Darling and her friends steal guavas, try to get the baby out of young Chipo’s belly, and grasp at memories of Before. Before their homes were destroyed by paramilitary policemen, before the school closed, before the fathers left for dangerous jobs abroad. But Darling has a chance to escape: she has an aunt in America. She travels to this new land in search of America’s famous abundance only to find that her options as an immigrant are perilously few.
Also, represented on the 2013 longlist are authors from Britain, New Zealand, Canada, Malaysia and Ireland. Seven of the 13 authors are women; three are debut authors. Jim Crace is the oldest author on the longlist at 67 and Eleanor Catton is the youngest aged 27.
‘This is surely the most diverse longlist in Man Booker history: wonderfully various in terms of geography, form, length and subject, said Robert Macfarlane, Chair of judges.
Six of the longlisted writers will make the shortlist, which will be released in September. The winner, to be announced on October 15, will receive £50,000, while the six writers who make the shortlist will each be awarded £2,500 and presented with a specially commissioned, beautifully hand-bound edition of their book.
The Man Booker Prize was first awarded in 1969 and 2013 marks its 45th year. Only three African writers have won the prize before – Nadine Gordimer with The Conservationist (1974), J M Coetzee with Life and Times of Michael K (1983) and Disgrace (1999), and Ben Okri with The Famished Road ( 1991).