While I said there were few surprises with the long list for the Booker Prize, one of the new names has an interesting and thought-provoking background.
Ed O'Loughlin is a debut novelist but a seasoned writer, accustomed to being under fire as the Middle East correspondent for major Australian papers, including The Australian, Sydney Morning Herald, and The Age. His book, Not Untrue and Not Unkind (and this is not a surprise) is a war correspondent's reflections on his years of reporting from Africa.
What is a surprise is that he has been fighting a battle of his own for some years - a battle with giant internet encyclopedia Wikipedia, which flourishes from contributions by anonymous writers, many (if not most) of them amateur. According to the internet magazine The Millions, he was attacked for his so-called bias against Israel by critics who targeted his Wikipedia page.
It's no good looking it up. The page has been removed. O'Loughlin requested them to do it, in a letter addressed to "Dear whoever you all are.
"My name is Ed O'Loughlin," he wrote; "this is my real name, I stress - and I am the subject of this article.
"The article as it has appeared in its various manifestations in recent months is a starkly one-sided attack on my personal and professional character which is based entirely on highly partisan sources and falsehoods. The moving forces behind it are anonymous people who do not have the integrity to reveal their identities or interests, and whose malicious intent is quite clear ..."
Wow. Follow the link above to read the rest of the letter yourself.
Personally, I have been very suspicious of Wikipedia, starting from the time I looked up Captain Charles Wilkes (1798-1877), commander of the great United States Exploring Expedition, and found that the contributor had confused him with the social activist and British radical politician John Wilkes (1727-97). I corrected the page and went away, never to visit again.