Neel Mukherjee long listed for Man Booker Prize

Neel Mukherjee longlisted for Man Booker Prize

July 26, 2014

‘It is 1967, Calcutta. Unnoticed by his family, Supratik has become dangerously involved in student unrest, agitation, extremist political activism. Compelled by an idealistic desire to change his life and the world around him, all he leaves behind is this note’ – The Lives of Others, Neel Mukherjee

UK-based Indian author, Neel Mukherjee has been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize this year, for his second book The Lives of Others. Born and raised in Kolkata, where he completed his school and college education, Mukherjee moved on to Oxford and Cambridge and finally to the University of East Anglia, where he did an MA in creative writing in 2001.

Neel Mukherjee

The Man Booker, which is awarded to the best original novel of the year in the opinion of a panel of judges, is worth £50,000 to the winner. Previously entitled only for authors from the UK, Commonwealth nations, Ireland and Zimbabwe, from 2014, writers from anywhere around the world would be considered, as long as their novels are in English and have been published in UK.

The winner is usually announced at a ceremony in Guildhall in London in early October. The panel of judges includes literary critics, leading public figures, librarians, writers and publishers. The judges for this year’s award are Sarah Churchwell, Daniel Glaser, Jonathan Bate, Alastair Niven and Erica Wagner, under the chairmanship of Anthony Grayling. On September 9, the panel of judges will meet again to announce a shortlist of six titles, from which to select the final awardee.

The Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist

History of the Rain, Niall Williams (Bloomsbury)
How to be Both, Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)
J, Howard Jacobson (Jonathan Cape)
Orfeo, Richard Powers (Atlantic Books)
The Blazing World, Siri Hustvedt (Sceptre)
The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell (Sceptre)
The Dog, Joseph O'Neill (Fourth Estate)
The Lives of Others, Neel Mukherjee (Chatto & Windus)
The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan (Chatto & Windus)
The Wake, Paul Kingsnorth (Unbound)
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, Joshua Ferris (Viking)
Us, David Nicholls (Hodder & Stoughton)
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler (Serpent's Tail)

Published on May 22, by Chatto and Windus The Lives of Others is a classic tale recounting the story of a Bengali family in Kolkata, in the year 1967, exploring relations that are decaying, and where the protagonist is trying to reinvent his place in the world. The domestic drama and the mystery of the changes being brought about in that era in Bengal, is what intrigues the readers and makes the conservatism of the Ghosh family so appealing.

Mukherjee's first book published in 2010

‘A devastating portrayal of a decadent society and the inevitably violent uprising against it, in the tradition of such politically charged Indian literature as the work of Prem Chand, Manto and Mulk Raj Anand. It is ferocious, unsparing and brutally honest,’ by Anita Desai, and ‘Searing, savage and deeply moving: an unforgettably vivid picture of a time of turmoil,’ by Amitav Ghosh, were among the many extremely positive reviews written on this remarkable literary work of Mukherjee. 

Thirteen books by four Americans, six Britons, two Irish and one Australian make up the longlist for 2014, selected from the 154 which were entered for this year's award by British publishers.

Neel Mukherjee’s earlier and first book, Past Continuous, was the joint winner of the Vodafone-Crossword Book Award, along with Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies. Under the title, A Life Apart (which was how it was published in the UK), it was shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2011. The same book was also the ‘Book of the Year’ pick by The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian, The TLS and The Sunday Telegraph.

Currently residing in London, the author is also a contributor to the Boston Review and keeps a keen interest in his roots back in Kolkata.

The author’s very ambitious and enthralling novel will keep you hooked till the last page, craving for more of that bygone era of Bengal.

Written by Ankita Bose for Team

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Comments (2)
Shipra Roy Reply
July 29, 2014
It'd be great if a novel based in Kolkata wins the Booker. And the author is from Kolkata too.
Abhishek Reply
July 29, 2014
Hope he wins the prize.
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