Sir Kazuo Ishiguro could win his second Booker Prize for fiction with his eighth novel, Klara And The Sun.
It features among 13 books on this year’s longlist, chosen from 158 novels published by writers of any nationality in the UK or Ireland.
The Japanese-born British novelist, 66, won the award in 1989 with The Remains Of The Day and has also been shortlisted three times previously – in 2005 for Never Let Me Go, in 2000 for When We Were Orphans, and in 1986 for An Artist Of The Floating World.
The judging panel, which is chaired by historian Maya Jasanoff and features former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, said Klara And The Sun offered a “genuinely innocent, ego-less perspective on the strange behaviour of humans obsessed and wounded by power, status and fear”.
Sir Kazuo received the Nobel Prize for literature in 2017.
He is among five longlisted novelists to have been recognised by the Booker Prize panel previously, along with Damon Galgut, Mary Lawson, Richard Powers and Sunjeev Sahota.
Six of the longlisted books come from independent publishers, Bloomsbury, Granta, Faber and Holland House Books, with Faber having won the prize seven times – the second highest number of wins for any publisher.
Jasanoff said: “One thing that unites these books is their power to absorb the reader in an unusual story, and to do so in an artful, distinctive voice. Many of them consider how people grapple with the past — whether personal experiences of grief or dislocation or the historical legacies of enslavement, apartheid and civil war.
“Many examine intimate relationships placed under stress, and through them meditate on ideas of freedom and obligation, or on what makes us human.
“It’s particularly resonant during the pandemic to note that all of these books have important things to say about the nature of community, from the tiny and secluded to the unmeasurable expanse of cyberspace.”
Gaby Wood, director of the Booker Prize Foundation, said: “In recent years Booker Prize longlists have drawn attention to various elements of novelty in the novel: experimentalism of form, work in unprecedented genres, debut authors.
“This year’s list is more notable for the engrossing stories within it, for the geographical range of its points of view and for its recognition of writers who have been working at an exceptionally high standard for many years.
“Some have already been rewarded with prizes (a Nobel here, a Pulitzer there). Two are debut novelists. Many have fallen within the Booker’s orbit before.
“To see them brought together, and to hear from them in these books, is to know that literature is in the most capable and creative of hands.”
The shortlist of six books will be announced on Tuesday September 14 with those authors each receiving £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book.
The winning novel receives £50,000 and will be announced on Wednesday November 3 in an award ceremony held in partnership with the BBC at Broadcasting House’s Radio Theatre.
Douglas Stuart’s debut novel Shuggie Bain, about a boy growing up amid poverty and addiction in 1980s Glasgow, won the 2020 prize.
– The 2021 longlist:
Anuk Arudpragasam, A Passage North (Sri Lankan)
Rachel Cusk, Second Place (British/Canadian)
Damon Galgut, The Promise (South African)
Nathan Harris, The Sweetness Of Water (American)
Kazuo Ishiguro, Klara And The Sun (British)
Karen Jennings, An Island (South African)
Mary Lawson, A Town Called Solace (Canadian)
Patricia Lockwood, No One is Talking About This (American)
Nadifa Mohamed, The Fortune Men (British/Somali)
Richard Powers, Bewilderment (American)
Sunjeev Sahota, China Room (British)
Maggie Shipstead, Great Circle (American)
Francis Spufford, Light Perpetual (British)