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'Booker Dozen' Stirs In A Hefty Batch Of American Authors

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Mr_Vector, iStockphoto

When the Man Booker Prize announced in 2013 it would expand eligibility to include writers across the English-speaking world, the doomsayers came out in spades. The literary award, the U.K.'s most prestigious, had long been open only to British writers and those from Ireland, Zimbabwe and the Commonwealth.

To many people at the time — more than a few of them grumpy — the new, inclusive rules meant one thing: The Americans are coming.

If the past two years are any indication, it appears they've arrived. Of the 13 novels picked for the Booker's longlist Wednesday, five were penned by Americans — up from the four on last year's longlist.

Marilynne Robinson, Laila Lalami, Bill Clegg, Anne Tyler and Hanya Yanagihara all hail from the United States. Robinson and Tyler, both Pulitzer Prize winners, are no strangers to accolades — Robinson's Lila was nominated (it was also shortlisted for last year's National Book Award before getting passed over) as was Tyler's A Spool of Blue Thread. Lalami's third novel, The Moor's Account, made the list and has inspired something of a breakout year for the Moroccan-born California transplant. Clegg — the former crack addict-turned-literary agent-turned-memoirist — earned a nod for his debut novel, Did You Ever Have a Family. Yanagihara rounds out the American side with her expansive — and thus a bit ironically titled — novel, A Little Life.

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Of the 13 authors on the list, only Irish novelist Anne Enright has won the Booker before, back in 2007. She joins Marlon James, the first Jamaican writer to be nominated for the prize; Brits Andrew O'Hagan, Sunjeev Sahota and Tom McCarthy; Indian Anuradha Roy; and New Zealander Anna Smaill and Nigerian Chigozie Obioma, both rookie novelists.

The nominees for the prize, which carries a purse of nearly $80,000, will be winnowed to a shortlist of just six on Sept. 15. The ultimate winner will be announced Oct. 13 in London.

All this means you have time to study up: Find the full list of nominated authors — or the "Booker Dozen," as it's sometimes called — complete with links to some of NPR's coverage.

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