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2013 Longlist

Read the text of Professor Marina Warner's speech including the judges' comments about all the longlisted books in her speech at the shortlist annoucement from the Melbourne Writers Festival on 30 August 2013 here.

PathfindersPathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science

Jim Al-Khalili


For over 700 years the international language of science was Arabic. In Pathfinders, Jim al-Khalili celebrates the forgotten, inspiring pioneers who helped shape our understanding of the world during the golden age of Arabic science, including Iraqi physicist Ibn al-Haytham, who practised the modern scientific method over half a century before Bacon; al-Khwarizmi, the greatest mathematician of the medieval world; and Abu Rayhan al-Biruni, a Persian polymath to rival Leonardo da Vinci.


The Sense of an EndingThe Sense of an Ending

Julian Barnes

Jonathan Cape

Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life.

Now Tony is retired. He's had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He's certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer's letter is about to prove.


Sufficient GraceSufficient Grace

Amy Espeseth


Sufficient Grace is a story of lost innocence and the unfailing bond between two young women. It is at once devastating and beautiful, and ultimately transcendent.


delusions_of_gender_cover_150px.jpgDelusions of Gender

Cordelia Fine

Icon Books

Are men from Mars and women really from Venus? Gender inequalities are increasingly defended by citing hard-wired differences between the male and female brain. That’s why, we’re told, there are so few women in science, so few men in the laundry room – different brains are just suited to different things. Not so, argues cognitive neuroscientist Cordelia Fine.



Jonathan Franzen

Fourth Estate

This is the story of the Berglunds, their son Joey, their daughter Jessica and their friend Richard Katz. It is about how we use and abuse our freedom; about the beginning and ending of love; teenage lust; the unexpectedness of adult life; why we compete with our friends; how we betray those closest to us; and why things almost never work out as they ‘should’. It is a story about the human heart, and what it leads us to do to ourselves and each other.


River of SmokeRiver of Smoke

Amitav Ghosh

John Murray

In September 1838 a storm blows up on the Indian Ocean and the Ibis, a ship carrying a consignment of convicts and indentured labourers from Calcutta to Mauritius, is caught up in the whirlwind. When the seas settle, five men have disappeared - two lascars, two convicts and one of the passengers. Did the same storm upend the fortunes of those aboard the Anahita, an opium carrier heading towards Canton? And what fate befell those aboard the Redruth, a sturdy two-masted brig heading East out of Cornwall? Was it the storm that altered their course or were the destinies of these passengers at the mercy of even more powerful forces?



Robert Gray

John Leonard Press

For Cumulus, Robert Gray has chosen all he wishes to retain from his eight volumes of poetry, some of it considerably and significantly revised. He has included here a new book, ‘Nameless Earth’, not previously published in Australia.

Most striking is an ever-alert immediacy—a perception and reflectiveness in the fluid moment. Whether through his sensuous language or his powerful engagement with ideas, Gray’s poetry continually opens us to a fresh involvement with the physical world.


The Daughters of MarsThe Daughters of Mars

Thomas Keneally


In 1915, Naomi and Sally Durance join the war effort as nurses, escaping the confines of their father’s dairy farm and carrying a guilty secret with them. Used to tending the sick as they are, nothing could have prepared them for what they confront, first in the Dardanelles, then on the Western Front.

At once vast in scope and extraordinarily intimate, The Daughters of Mars brings the First World War to vivid, concrete life from an unusual perspective. A searing and profoundly moving tale, it pays tribute to the men and women who voluntarily risked their lives for peace.


Suddenly A Knock on the DoorSuddenly, A Knock on the Door

Etgar Keret

Chatto & Windus

Etgar Keret is an ingenious and original master of the short story. Hilarious, witty and always unusual, declared a 'genius' by the New York Times, Keret brings all of his prodigious talent to bear in this, his sixth bestselling collection.

Long a household name in Israel, where he has been declared the voice of his generation, Keret has been acknowledged as one of the country's most radical and extraordinary writers.


House of SinsBook of Sins

Nidaa Khoury

House of Nehesi Publishers

'Book of Sins' is the first full English translation of a poetry collection by Nidaa Khoury, with the full Arabic and Hebrew texts in the same volume. Khoury is “one of the major exponents of modernist Arab women writing,” according to literary professor Yair Huri, and “the poems in Book of Sins are a sampler from Khoury’s ranging panoply of themes, styles and literary modes.


The Old WaysThe Old Ways

Robert Macfarlane

Hamish Hamilton

Robert Macfarlane sets off from his Cambridge home to follow the ancient tracks and sea-ways that form part of a vast network of old routes criss-crossing the British landscape and its waters, and connecting them to the continents beyond. Travelling from the chalk-lands of England to the bird-islands of the Scottish northwest, and from the disputed territories of Palestine to the sacred landscapes of Spain and the Himalayas, the book folds together geology, archaeology, natural history and cartography.



Alice Oswald

Faber and Faber

A glitteringly original new poem which is also a version of Homer's Iliad, from prize-winning poet Alice Oswald.

Matthew Arnold praised the Iliad for its 'nobility', as has everyone ever since -- but ancient critics praised it for itsenargeia, its 'bright unbearable reality' (the word used when gods come to earth not in disguise but as themselves). To retrieve the poem's energy, Alice Oswald has stripped away its story, and her account focuses by turns on Homer's extended similes and on the brief 'biographies' of the minor war-dead, most of whom are little more than names, but each of whom lives and dies unforgettably - and unforgotten - in the copiousness of Homer's glance.