Read the text of Professor Marina Warner's speech including the judges' comments about all the longlisted books in her speech at the shortlist annoucement from the Melbourne Writers Festival on 30 August 2013 here.
For over 700 years the international language of science was Arabic. In Pathfinders, Jim al-Khalili celebrates the forgotten, inspiring pioneers who helped shape our understanding of the world during the golden age of Arabic science, including Iraqi physicist Ibn al-Haytham, who practised the modern scientific method over half a century before Bacon; al-Khwarizmi, the greatest mathematician of the medieval world; and Abu Rayhan al-Biruni, a Persian polymath to rival Leonardo da Vinci.
Are men from Mars and women really from Venus? Gender inequalities are increasingly defended by citing hard-wired differences between the male and female brain. That’s why, we’re told, there are so few women in science, so few men in the laundry room – different brains are just suited to different things. Not so, argues cognitive neuroscientist Cordelia Fine.
Chatto & Windus
Etgar Keret is an ingenious and original master of the short story. Hilarious, witty and always unusual, declared a 'genius' by the New York Times, Keret brings all of his prodigious talent to bear in this, his sixth bestselling collection. Long a household name in Israel, where he has been declared the voice of his generation, Keret has been acknowledged as one of the country's most radical and extraordinary writers.
Robert Macfarlane sets off from his Cambridge home to follow the ancient tracks and sea-ways that form part of a vast network of old routes criss-crossing the British landscape and its waters, and connecting them to the continents beyond. Travelling from the chalk-lands of England to the bird-islands of the Scottish northwest, and from the disputed territories of Palestine to the sacred landscapes of Spain and the Himalayas, the book folds together geology, archaeology, natural history and cartography.
Faber and Faber
A glitteringly original new poem which is also a version of Homer's Iliad, from prize-winning poet Alice Oswald.
Matthew Arnold praised the Iliad for its 'nobility', as has everyone ever since -- but ancient critics praised it for itsenargeia, its 'bright unbearable reality' (the word used when gods come to earth not in disguise but as themselves). To retrieve the poem's energy, Alice Oswald has stripped away its story, and her account focuses by turns on Homer's extended similes and on the brief 'biographies' of the minor war-dead, most of whom are little more than names, but each of whom lives and dies unforgettably - and unforgotten - in the copiousness of Homer's glance.