Sheffield Hallam University lecturer’s ‘rejected’ novel up for Booker Prize

Writer: Jane Rogers.
Writer: Jane Rogers.
Have your say

A SHEFFIELD Hallam University lecturer is in the running for the country’s most prestigious literature prize - with a book that was almost never published.

Jane Rogers, professor on the university creative writing MA course, has made the last 13 for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction with her novel The Testament of Jessie Lamb.

The novel, Jane’s eighth, was turned down by a number of mainstream publishers but has now been published by a small Scottish independent, Sandstone Press.

Jane said: “This list of finalists is a real vindication for indy publishers. “Three of the novels on it are from independents, who are supporting serious writers and taking risks while the bigger houses are playing it safe.”

Jane’s book portrays a near-future world in which pregnant women are dying of an incurable disease. It follows teenager Jessie Lamb and her determination to make her life count for something in a world irreparably altered by an act of biological terrorism.

The 13 titles on the Man Booker longlist were chosen by a panel of judges from a total of 138 books. Jane was previously selected in 1991 for her novel Mr Wroe’s Virgins.

A shortlist of six authors will be announced in September, while the winner will be announced in October.

The winner will receive £50,000 and each of the six shortlisted authors, including the winner, will receive £2,500 and a designer bound edition of their book.

Jane said: “With this novel, I wanted to explore that moment when the power shifts and a teenager becomes independent from her parents.

“Jessie is an ordinary girl living in extraordinary times - as her world collapses, her idealism and courage drive her towards the ultimate act of heroism.

“But her parents, who still see her as a foolishly impressionable child, are determined to try and protect her from herself.”

Jane, who lives near Manchester was shortlisted in the BBC National Short Story Competition 2009. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.