Wales

Man Booker: Seren's Patrick McGuinness makes longlist

Patrick McGuinness
Image caption Patrick McGuinness drew on his experiences of living in Romania for The Last Hundred Days

A Caernarfon-based poet's debut novel published by an independent Welsh company has been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for fiction.

Oxford professor Patrick McGuinness's spy thriller The Last Hundred Days was inspired by his experience of the 1989 Romanian revolution.

McGuinness said he was "delighted and surprised" to join the 13 nominees.

It is also a coup for Bridgend-based Seren, where fiction editor Penny Thomas said staff were overjoyed.

She said it was the first time a book from a Welsh publisher had made the Booker longlist.

Born in Tunisia in 1968, McGuinness lived in Bucharest in the years leading up to the Romanian revolution, which was one of the bloodiest uprisings to mark the end of communism in Europe.

His novel is a literary thriller about deposed president Nicolae Ceausescu's last 100 days in power, exploring "a world of danger, repression and corruption".

McGuinness, who divides his time between Oxford and Caernarfon, is a professor of French and comparative literature at Oxford University and a Fellow of St Anne's College, where he has taught since 1998.

His poetry collections include The Canals of Mars (2004) and Jilted City (2010) which was longlisted for the Wales Book of the Year Award 2011 and was a Poetry Book Society recommendation.

He has also won an Eric Gregory Award, the American Poetry Foundations Levinson Prize and the Poetry Business Prize for his poetry, whilst his translation of Mallarmé's For Anatole's Tomb, was the Poetry Book Society's translation choice.

'Niche market'

But despite his success as a poet and scholar, McGuinness was surprised his debut novel had attracted so much attention.

"Communist bloc regime change fiction is certainly a niche market but perhaps - with all that has been going on in the world lately - it has a topicality I didn't expect when I wrote a novel about my own experience in Ceasescu's Romania," he said.

Penny Thomas said: "He is well known as a poet but to achieve a Booker longlisting with your first novel is amazing.

"It is also wonderful for a small independent Welsh publisher like Seren, based in Bridgend, to have its authors recognised in this way and shows we are publishing books that are as good as anywhere in the world."

The shortlist of six authors will be announced on 6 September and the winner will be revealed on 18 October.

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