Booker Prize semifinalists include 4 Irish writers, 4 debut novelists

LONDON (AP) — Author Sebastian Barry, who has received four previous nominations for the Booker Prize and twice been shortlisted for it, was one of four Irish writers Tuesday to make the long list of semifinalists for the prestigious award.

Barry is up this year for his novel “Old God’s Time,” about a retired police detective who gets dragged back into a cold case investigation of a murdered priest suspected of sexually abusing children.

Twelve other writers, including four debut novelists and two prior Booker nominees, are up for the 50,000 pound ($64,000) prize. The authors are from seven different countries on four continents.

“All 13 novels cast new light on what it means to exist in our time, and they do so in original and thrilling ways,” said Esi Edugyan, chair of the judges. “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.”

The award recognizes the best in long fiction published in the U.K. and Ireland between Oct. 1, 2022 and Sept. 30, 2023. The nominees were chosen from 163 books submitted by publishers.

The winner is set to be announced Nov. 26 after the list is pared down to six finalists next month.

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

Paul Murray, another Irish writer, was nominated for “The Bee Sting,” a tragicomic family saga. It is his second nomination.

Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow’s debut novel, “All The Little Bird-Hearts,” is about a rule-bound mother whose carefully ordered life is upended when a charming couple moves next door with darker designs on her 16-year-old daughter. Like her protagonist, Lloyd-Barlow is autistic.

Shehan Karunatilaka, one of Sri Lanka’s most prestigious writers, won the 2022 Booker Prize for “The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida,” a satirical “afterlife noir” set during Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war.


A previous version of this story was corrected to reflect that the competition is now known as the Booker Prize, not the Man Booker Prize.

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