The first book by Indian-born author Chetna Maroo is on the Booker Prize longlist.

One of the 13 books that made the cut for the 2023 Booker Prize longlist announced on Tuesday is “Western Lane,” the debut novel by Indian-born author Chetna Maroo, who now resides in London.

The British Gujarati milieu is the setting for Kenya-born author Maroo’s novel, which has received praise from the Booker judges for using the sport of squash as a metaphor for complicated human emotions. It centers on the relationships between an 11-year-old girl named Gopi and her family.

“Skilfully deploying the sport of squash as both context and metaphor, ‘Western Lane’ is a deeply evocative debut about a family grappling with grief, conveyed through crystalline language which reverberates like the sound ‘of a ball hit clean and hard… with a close echo’,” said the Booker Prize judging panel, chaired by twice Booker-shortlisted Canadian novelist Esi Edugyan.

‘Western Lane’ is one of four debut books that make up this year’s so-called “Booker Dozen” of 13 longlisted titles, together with ‘If I Survive You’ by Jonathan Escoffery, ‘Pearl’ by Siân Hughes, and ‘All the Little Bird-Hearts’ by Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow.

Sebastian Barry’s ‘Old God’s Time’, Paul Harding’s ‘The Other Eden’, Ayobami Adebayo’s ‘A Spell of Good Things’, Paul Lynch’s ‘Prophet Song’, Martin Macinnes’ ‘In Ascension’, Tan Twan Eng’s ‘The House of Doors’, Paul Murray’s ‘The Bee Sting’, Sarah Bernstein’s ‘Study for Obedience’, and Elaine Feeney’s ‘How to Build a Boat’ make up the rest of the longlist.

The 13 books, written by authors from Malaysia, Nigeria, Ireland, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, explore universal and contemporary themes, including scientific advancements and competitive sport, as well as deeply moving personal dramas and tragicomic family sagas.

“The list is defined by its freshness – by the irreverence of new voices, by the iconoclasm of established ones,” said Edugyan.

“All 13 novels cast new light on what it means to exist in our time, and they do so in original and thrilling ways. Their range is vast, both in subject and form: they shocked us, made us laugh, filled us with anguish, but above all, they stayed with us. This is a list to excite, challenge, delight, a list to bring wonder. The novels are small revolutions, each seeking to energise and awaken the language. Together – whether historical or contemporary – they offer startling portraits of the current,” she said.

Adjoa Andoh, a British actor, writer, and director, Mary Jean Chan, a Hong Kong Chinese poet, lecturer, editor, and critic, James Shapiro, an American author and professor, and Robert Webb, a British actor and writer, all served on the judging panel. They chose among 163 books submitted by publishers that were released between October 2022 and September 2023.

Every year, writers of any country who create long-form fiction that is published in the UK or Ireland and is written in English are eligible for the Booker Prize.

“The range of experience, expertise and sensibility among this year’s judges led them to seek novels that both advanced the form and allowed the reader to understand something about the world; books that would have impact and longevity; books that moved them – and above all, books of such excellence and subtlety that the judges looked forward to re-reading them,” said Gaby Wood, Chief Executive of the Booker Prize Foundation.

Six novels from the longlist will be selected for the shortlist, which will be revealed on September 21 during a ceremony at London’s recently reopened National Portrait Gallery. Each of the selected authors will get GBP 2,500 in addition to a book edition that has been specifically bound.

On November 26, an event in London will reveal the 2023 Booker Prize winner. In honor of the Irish-British author Iris Murdoch, who won the 1978 Booker Prize, the winner receives GBP 50,000 and the “Iris” trophy. PTI AK J GRS GRS GRS

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