The longlist for this year's Man Booker Prize was announced yesterday, and as usual, a number of the nominees for the most prestigious British book prize in the world have no publishing history on this side of the pond. So we're sending out an APB to all American publishers: Don't wind up like the American publishers caught by surprise when books like How Late It Was, How Late and The Life of Pi come out of nowhere to win the award. Publish these books now!
Much of the longlist, of course, is already taken care of; Peter Ho Davies's The Welsh Girl, Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Michael Redhill's Consolation, and of course Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach have already been published in the United States. Others, like Anne Enright's The Gathering, Lloyd Jones's Mister Pip, and Nikita Lalwani's Gifted are due to come out in the next few months.
But other books' American futures are cloudier. Nicola Barker's Darkmans and A.N. Wilson's Winnie & Wolf presumably will be taken care of by the American publishers of their previous books. But let's find homes for the other long-listers, whose American publishing plans seem murky at best:
Self Help, by Edward Docx
What is it? Set in St. Petersburg, this English-Russian family saga was acquired by Houghton Mifflin in 2004 and scheduled for publication in 2006. But it seems never to have appeared, and its editor, Elaine Pfefferblit, hasn't acquired a book since.
British publisher: Picador
American home: Houghton presumably still owns the rights. When will the book come out?
Update! Coming in January from Houghton under the title Pravda.
The Gift of Rain, by Tan Twan Eng
What is it? A first novel by a Malaysian author, set in 1939 Penang, which follows a 16-year-old whose friendship with a Japanese diplomat is shattered when the Japanese invade Malaya.
British publisher: Myrmidon Books
American home: How about Riverhead, who did a nice job publishing Malaysian Booker long-lister Tash Aw's The Harmony Silk Factory in 2005?
What Was Lost, by Catherine O'Flynn
What is it? Twenty years after the disappearance of a girl at a shopping center, the primary suspect's sister sees the girl appear on the mall's security cameras.
British publisher: Tindal Street Press
American home: A quirky mystery with supernatural elements, published by a small independent press? How about MacAdam/Cage, publishers of The Time Traveler's Wife?
Animal's People, by Indra Sindha
What is it? A scabrously funny fictional treatment of the Bhopal chemical disaster.
British publisher: Simon & Schuster
American home: Well, it sure would be easy for this to land at the American S&S, but why not Knopf, who so impressively published Joy Williams's similarly hard-to-sell The Quick and the Dead?
Man Booker Longlist [Official site]