Thirteen books have made it onto the longlist for the 2009 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, up from the usual 12, in what judges described as one of the strongest fields in recent years.
The "Man Booker dozen", as the selection is known, includes two former winners, four previously shortlisted writers and three first-time novelists.
The annual award for the best novel in English by a writer from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth counts, because it helps the winning book sell tens of thousands of extra copies.
An appearance on the shortlist translates into thousands more sales.
Chairman of the judges, BBC broadcaster and journalist James Naughtie, said the list displayed a "span of styles and themes that make this an outstandingly rich fictional mix".
Naughtie, who characterized the offerings as "one of the strongest lists in recent memory" said they were the books readers will want to get their hands on.
"We kept discovering new talent as well as reacquainting ourselves with familiar writers, and emerged with a feeling we were part of an exceptional year," he added.
Naughtie described the list as "eclectic ... taking us from the court of Henry VIII to the Hollywood jungle, with stops along the way in a 19th century Essex asylum, an African war zone and a futuristic Brazilian city".
The 2009 shortlist is to be announced on September 8 at sponsor Man Group's London headquarters. The selection of the winner will be broadcast live on October 6 at a dinner at London's Guildhall.
The award is judged by a panel that includes a literary critic, an academic, a literary editor and a novelist. A total of 42 books have won the prize since it was launched in 1969, because the award was shared in 1974 and 1992. Contenders must have been published in the past year and originally written in English.
AS Byatt, who won in 1990, and JM Coetzee, winner in 1983 and 1999 have been nominated for their novels The Children's Book and Summertime.
The other 11 novels are: The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds; How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall; The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey; Me Cheeta by James Lever; Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel; The Glass Room by Simon Mawer, Not Untrue & Not Unkind by Ed O'Loughlin; Heliopolis by James Scudamore; Brooklyn by ColmToibin; Love and Summer by William Trevor and The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters.
(China Daily/Reuters July 31, 2009)