30 Jul 2015

NZ novelist Anna Smaill longlisted for Man Booker Prize

10:21 am on 30 July 2015

New Zealand writer Anna Smaill has made the Man Booker Prize long list for her first novel The Chimes.

The Man Booker longlisted author Anna Smaill.

Anna Smaill's first novel has made the Man Booker Prize long list. Photo: Supplied/Hatchette NZ

Smaill's book, which is set in a dystopian alternative London where written words and memory are banned, is among 13 works chosen from 156 entries from around the world vying for £50,000 ($NZ117,000) prize.

Fellow Kiwi author Eleanor Catton won the award for her book The Luminaries in 2013, while Keri Hulme won the 1985 prize for The Bone People.

The list will be cut down to six on 15 September, with the winner announced on 13 October in London's Guildhall.

First awarded in 1969, the prize's list of previous winners is a roll call of some of the literary giants of the past four decades, including Salman Rushdie, Iris Murdoch and Ian McEwan.

The rules of the prize changed in 2013, opening up the competition to writers beyond Britain and the Commonwealth.

Last year's winning novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan, sold almost 800,000 copies worldwide.

Smaill, a poet and classical violinist, has drawn on both disciplines for The Chimes, in which the population is brainwashed using a giant musical instrument called the Carillon that erases memory.

The story focuses on Simon - a teenaged orphan - who joins the Five Rover "pact", a group of young outlaws run by the charismatic Lucien.

Bombarded by the Carillon's siren calls, the residents of the metropolis are unable to form new memories and are trapped in an endless loop of repetition. But Simon has inherited his mother's dangerous gift for seeing other people's memories.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs