Booker longlist announced

Novels by Tom McCarthy, Rose Tremain and David Mitchell are nominated for the literary prize, but Am

This year's Booker Prize longlist has been announced. The novels that made the list, plus links to NS reviews and coverage, are:

Peter Carey Parrot and Oliver in America (Faber and Faber)

Emma Donoghue Room (Pan MacMillan -- Picador)

Helen Dunmore The Betrayal (Penguin -- Fig Tree)

Damon Galgut In a Strange Room (Grove Atlantic -- Atlantic Books)

Howard Jacobson The Finkler Question (Bloomsbury) -- this will be reviewed by Leo Robson in Thursday's magazine

Andrea Levy The Long Song (Headline Publishing Group -- Headline Review)

Tom McCarthy C (Random House - Jonathan Cape)

David Mitchell The Thousand Autumns of Zacob de Zoet (Hodder & Stoughton -- Sceptre)

Lisa Moore February (Random House -- Chatto & Windus)

Paul Murray Skippy Dies (Penguin -- Hamish Hamilton)

Rose Tremain Trespass (Random House -- Chatto & Windus)

Christos Tsiolkas The Slap (Grove Atlantic -- Tuskar Rock)

Alan Warner The Stars in the Bright Sky (Random House -- Jonathan Cape)

Andrew Motion, chair of the judging panel, said:

Here are 13 exceptional novels -- books we have chosen for their intrinsic quality, without reference to the past work of their authors. Wide-ranging in their geography and their concern, they tell powerful stories which make the familiar strange and cover an enormous range of history and feeling. We feel confident that they will provoke and entertain.

The first sentence of Motion's statement is particularly striking, given that the judges chose not to longlist the recent efforts from two of Britain's best-known novelists -- Ian McEwan and Martin Amis.

Daniel Trilling is the Editor of New Humanist magazine. He was formerly an Assistant Editor at the New Statesman.

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Harry Styles: What can three blank Instagram posts tell us about music promotion?

Do the One Direction star’s latest posts tell us about the future of music promotion in the social media age - or take us back to a bygone era?

Yesterday, Harry Styles posted three identical, captionless blank images to Instagram. He offered no explanation on any other social network, and left no clue via location serves or tagged accounts as to what the pictures might mean. There was nothing about any of the individual images that suggested they might have significance beyond their surface existence.

And, predictably, they brought in over a million likes – and thousands of Styles fans decoding them with the forensic dedication of the cast of Silent Witness.

Of course, the Instagrams are deliberately provocative in their vagueness. They reminded me of Robert Rauschenberg’s three-panelled White Painting (1951), or Robert Ryman’s Untitled, three square blank canvases that hang in the Pompidou Centre. The composer John Cage claimed that the significance of Rauschenberg’s White Paintings lay in their status as receptive surfaces that respond to the world around them. The significance of Styles’s Instagrams arguably, too, only gain cultural relevance as his audience engages with them.

So what did fans make of the cryptic posts? Some posited a modelling career announcement would follow, others theorised that it was a nod to a Taylor Swift song “Blank Space”, and that the former couple would soon confirm they were back together. Still more thought this suggested an oncoming solo album launch.

You can understand why a solo album launch would be on the tip of most fans’ tongues. Instagram has become a popular platform for the cryptic musical announcement — In April, Beyoncé teased Lemonade’s world premiere with a short Instagram video – keeping her face, and the significance behind the title Lemonade, hidden.

Creating a void is often seen as the ultimate way to tease fans and whet appetites. In June last year, The 1975 temporarily deleted their Instagram, a key platform in building the band’s grungy, black and white brand, in the lead up to the announcement of their second album, which involved a shift in aesthetic to pastel pinks and bright neons.

The Weekend wiped his, too, just last week – ahead of the release of his new single “Starboy”. Blank Instagrams are popular across the network. Jaden Smith has posted hundreds of them, seemingly with no wider philosophical point behind them, though he did tweet in April last year, “Instagram Is A BlackHole Of Time And Energy.”

The motive behind Harry’s blank posts perhaps seems somewhat anticlimactic – an interview with magazine Another Man, and three covers, with three different hairstyles, to go along with it. But presumably the interview coincides with the promotion of something new – hopefully, something other than his new film Dunkirk and the latest update on his beloved tresses. In fact, those blank Instagrams could lead to a surprisingly traditional form of celebrity announcement – one that surfaces to the world via the print press.

Anna Leszkiewicz is a pop culture writer at the New Statesman.