London-based Indian-origin author Chetna Maroo’s debut novel ‘Western Lane’ is among 13 books to make the cut for the 2023 Booker Prize longlist revealed. Kenya-born Maroo’s novel, set within the context of the British Gujarati milieu, has been praised by the Booker judges for its use of the sport of squash as a metaphor for complex human emotions. It revolves around the story of an 11-year-old girl named Gopi and her bonds with her family.
The 13 books, with authors spanning Malaysia, Nigeria, Ireland, Canada, the US and the UK, explore universal and topical themes – from deeply moving personal dramas to tragicomic family sagas, from the effects of climate change to the oppression of minorities, and from scientific breakthroughs to competitive sport. 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.
About the book:
‘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 novels that make up this year’s so-called “Booker Dozen” of 13 longlisted books, alongside ‘If I Survive You’ by Jonathan Escoffery, ‘Pearl’ by Siân Hughes and ‘All the Little Bird-Hearts’ by Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow.