Tan Twan Eng's new book 'The House Of Doors' on Booker Prize 2023 long list


Third time lucky? All three of Tan Twan Eng's novels have been nominated for the Booker Prize. His previous books 'The Gift Of Rain' in 2007 and 'The Garden Of Evening Mists' in 2012 were Booker-nominated and his latest novel 'The House Of Doors' has been long listed for the Booker Prize 2023, a consistent feat in giving Malaysian literary works a significant global presence. Photo: Tan Twan Eng/Facebook

Malaysian writer Tan Twan Eng received his third nomination for the Booker Prize, this time for The House Of Doors, a book of historical fiction drawn from the life of Somerset Maugham.

The long list selection, announced in London on Tuesday, was made from 163 books published between Oct 1, 2022, and Sept 30, 2023, which were submitted to the Booker Prize Foundation by publishers.

The Penang-born Tan, 51, who resides in Cape Town, South Africa, was nominated previously for his books The Gift Of Rain in 2007 and The Garden Of Evening Mists in 2012.

The prestigious prize recognises pieces of fiction from around the world.

“Drawing on the life and writing of Somerset Maugham, The House Of Doors is a magisterial and haunting tale of forbidden love and loss in the shadow of revolution and empire. This is historical fiction at its finest,” outlines a statement by the Booker Prize 2023 judges.

Twelve other writers, including four debut novelists, are up for the £50,000 pound (RM289,360) prize. The authors are from seven different countries on four continents.

A novel written from the perspective of a neurodivergent protagonist is also among the books making up the Booker Prize 2023 long list.

Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow’s debut novel All The Little Bird-Hearts, uses the author’s extensive personal experience with autism.

Esi Edugyan, chair of the 2023 judges, said this year’s list "is defined by its freshness, by the irreverence of new voices, by the iconoclasm of established ones”.

"All 13 novels cast new light on what it means to exist in our time, and they do so in original and thrilling ways,” she said.

"Their range is vast, both in subject and form: they shocked us, made us laugh, filled us with anguish, but above all they stayed with us.

"This is a list to excite, challenge, delight, a list to bring wonder.

"The novels are small revolutions, each seeking to energise and awaken the language. Together - whether historical or contemporary - they offer startling portraits of the current.”

Nigerian, Irish, Canadian, US, British and Malaysian authors have all been recognised this year.

Irish author Sebastian Barry joins a group of 10 other writers who have been nominated for the Booker Prize at least five times.

His novel Old God’s Time, about a murder investigation which leads a retired policeman to confront his past, is on the list this year.

Other Irish authors to feature include Elaine Feeney for How To Build A Boat, Paul Lynch for Prophet Song, and Paul Murray with The Bee Sting.

Murray was longlisted in 2010 for novel Skippy Dies.

Including the authors who have been listed this year, 37 Irish writers have been recognized by the Booker Prize, making Ireland the country that has produced the most nominees, relative to population size, in the prize’s history.

Sarah Bernstein, who was born in Canada and lives in Scotland, was recently named as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists and her book Study For Obedience, about the rise of xenophobia, has made this year’s longlist.

Ayobami Adebayo has become the fifth Nigerian novelist to be nominated for her work A Spell Of Good Things which is an examination of class and desire in modern day Nigeria.

Two stories exploring grief have also been longlisted - Chetna Maroo’s debut novel Western Lane and Sian Hughes’s book Pearl, which evokes themes explored in the medieval poem of the same name.

Other authors to have been recognised include Jonathan Escoffery, who has been nominated for his debut novel If I Survive You, Paul Harding for This Other Eden and Martin MacInnes for his novel In Ascension.

The Booker Prize Foundation is a registered charity which has been rewarding outstanding fiction for over five decades. - dpa/Booker Prizes

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