- Karthik Narasimhan
The Guardian announces its long list for the Guardian First Book award, touting it as “the most diverse (list) yet in ethnic origin and theme.”
Themes stretch from the death of a small Yorkshire farm, homelessness, loss of an identical twin, and transsexuality in Victorian England to the origins of Islam, western tourism in Thailand, the colonial legacy of Malaysia and the search for the icebound land of Thule as mythical citadel of the “perfect north”.
The Guardian award is open to debut works of fiction, poetry and non-fiction. So strong was this year's non-fiction entry, in particular, that at least two of the titles squeezed out in the first round of judging could have gone through in another year to have won the award.
Suketu Mehta is on the list for his Maximum City, the “Sideways of the South Asian Bookshelf” as is Tash Aw – the only author to feature on both the Man Booker and Guardian longlists (for The Harmony Silk Factory).
Nick Laird, born in Northern Ireland, brings off the double of being longlisted for the Guardian award and shortlisted for a Forward prize for his first poetry collection, To a Fault. Lists will be an active topic in his household: his wife Zadie Smith is shortlisted for the Man Booker for her novel On Beauty, and is a previous winner of the Guardian prize.