The Long-list Long-list

The Conservatory by Frances Jones Bannerman
The Conservatory by Frances Jones Bannerman

Tuesday sees the announcement of the long-list for this year’s Man Booker Prize and of course that has meant a flurry of personal lists suggesting what the final Booker’s Dozen might be.  Two years involved in shadowing the award, when I’ve been lucky enough to receive the full long-list on one occasion and the short-list on the second, have made me lazy about trying to read books in advance, but it has been interesting pulling together other people’s suggestions to get some idea of what better organised readers than I expect to be selected.  Apparently, the judges have read 151 books and there was a point when I thought I might have nominations for all 151 of them.  However, eventually it steadied out at the following thirty- four.  The number after each indicates how many readers and/or bookstores had included it in their list.

Americanah ~ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2)

The Blind Man’s Garden ~ Nadeem Aslam (1)

Life After Life ~ Kate Atkinson (2)

MaddAddam ~ Margaret Atwood (1)

Five Star Billionaire ~ Tash Aw (1)

We Need New Names ~ NoViolet Bulawayo (1)

The Luminaries ~ Eleanor Catton (1)

The Childhood of Jesus ~ JM Coetzee (3)

Harvest ~ Jim Crace (3)

The Secret Knowledge ~ Andrew Crumey (1)

Apple Tree Yard ~ Louise Doughty (1)

419 ~ Will Ferguson (1)

The Shock of the Fall ~ Nathan Filer (1)

Fallen Land ~ Patrick Flanery (1)

The Hired Man ~ Aminatta Forna (1)

Clever Girl ~ Tessa Hadley (1)

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia ~ Mohsin Hamid (1)

Hunters in the Snow ~ Daisy Hildyard (1)

The Folded Man ~ Matt Hill (1)

Perfect ~ Rachel Joyce (1)

Burial Rites ~ Hannah Kent (1)

Questions of Travel ~ Michelle de Krester (2)

Transatlantic ~ Colum McCann (2)

The Woman Upstairs ~ Claire Messud (1)

Instructions for a Heatwave ~ Maggie O’Farrell (1)

First Novel ~ Nicholas Royle (1)

Orkney ~ Amy Sackville (1)

That Deadman Dance ~ Kim Scott (1)

Wreaking ~ James Scudamore (1)

Ghana Must Go ~ Taiye Selasi (2)

The Machine ~ James Smythe (1)

Secrecy ~ Rupert Thomson (1)

The Testament of Mary ~ Colm Tóibín (1)

All The Birds, Singing ~ Evie Wyld (2)

As you can see, there is no one book that is constantly appearing on anyone’s list.  The Crace and Coetzee turned up three times each but two of those three indicated that they were there because they were the only heavy-weight writers publishing this year.  (I wouldn’t agree with that, but it is what was said.)

I’m really not in any position to comment on the suggestions that people have made, having read only two of the novels nominated here.  But what about you?  Is there an obvious contender in this list?  Or is there a book that for some reason you think has been overlooked?  It would be fun to narrow this down to our own Booker’s Dozen and see if we get it right.

26 thoughts on “The Long-list Long-list

    1. I can do rather better than that if ‘knowing of’ is the criteria, but when it comes to having read anything by them then I’m not doing that much better. I have met one of them, however, and know the partner of another. Do I get any marks in any one-upmanship game for that?

        1. Not today! Hot weather doesn’t suit me and after the past week my mind is like a damp sponge. I may not like the cold, but it’s definitely better for thinking coherently.

    1. One of the things I find annoying about the Booker, Jenny, is that they are allowed to consider books that will not have been published when the list is announced. I’m fairly sure that the Atwood is one of those. It’s a third to complete the ‘Oryx and Crake’ trilogy and I think it’s out in September.

  1. The indication that Crace and Coetzee were on the list because they were the only prominent writers who published during the year certainly suggests that their reputation, rather than the quality of their work, was the prime deciding factor for their selection.

    I vote for The Secret Knowledge by Andrew Crumey. No, I haven’t read it and it may be a steaming pile of possum offal but Crumey is a favorite author of mine so he should be high on this ridiculous list.

  2. I’m in the unusual position (for me) of having read six of these – normally I’m surprised if I’ve read one. Thrilled to bits to see Fallen Land on there and if there’s any justice it should win by a mile. Testament of Mary also brilliant. The Crace I enjoyed (fabulous descriptive writing), but it had significant weaknesses in the plot and went on too long. Burial Rites I’m in the middle of – very good so far but too early to give an opinion. Can’t believe Hunters In the Snow is on there – I thought it was badly-written drivel. And lastly Coetzee – beautifully written, clever but completely hollow – no meaning, no profundity (as promised in the blurb) – empty.

    So there you are – c’mon Fallen Land!!

    What do you mean by ‘shadowing’ it, Alex?

    1. My local Library used to have a very eccentric librarian who ‘caught’ people’s eye. Consequently, one year we were involved by the Booker people in reading the long list to see if we would come up with the same short list and then another by the BBC reading the short list to see if we would select the same winner. We did very poorly on the short list, although our favourite, Julian Barnes’ Arthur and George, did make it, but we successfully predicted White Tiger, not because any of us thought it ought to win but because we couldn’t agree on a winner and it was everyone’s second choice. I’ve always thought that was probably what happened with the official judges as well.

      1. I have no idea how they come up with some of the nominations or, indeed, the winners. It seems almost accidental when they pick a really good book. I looked back recently at winners from previous decades and so many of the winners have sunk into obscurity. I often think it must be mainly down to how hard the publishers hype the book in the end.

        1. I assume you’ve now seen the long list. ‘Fallen Land’ wasn’t eligible because the author is American. It might come up on the new Folio Prize, though, because that doesn’t have the Commonwealth restriction. I’m just about to start ‘The Kills’. Seeing as I’m in the same department as Richard House I really ought to read it.

          1. Yes, and I’m reduced to my usual situation of only having read two – Crace and Toibin. I wasn’t sure if Flanery was still officially American – I know he’s lived here for several years. Oh well, I’d be more than delighted if Toibin wins, though it’s more a novella than a novel.

            I always finding reading books by people I know very difficult – not just the ‘what if I hate it’ aspect, but also I find the very fact of knowing the author makes me read the book differently. Fortunately, I only know a couple of authors and both are acquaintances rather than friends. The Kills looks huge! I hope you enjoy it!

    1. No Stefanie, it’s one of those that will have been read before publication. I wish they weren’t allowed to do that. It doesn’t give readers the chance to make a judgement for themselves.

    1. No, I enjoyed the O’Farrell but it strikes me more as a Women’s Prize novel than a Booker contender. Funny how they have developed such very different styles.

  3. I’m no good at guessing the list, but I’m looking forward to seeing it come out. The only one of these I’ve read is Life after Life, and Kate Atkinson is a favourite author of mine so I’d like to see her on the list, but this has also persuaded me to put a hold on Burial Rites from the library, since it sounds intriguing.

    1. I’m with you on the Atkinson, Catie but when it didn’t take the Women’s Prize I think it missed its chance were awards are concerned. I’m going to have to explore Burial Rites, it’s getting a lot of support here.

  4. One that’s missing on this list and that I’m excited to see, albeit never heard of it until now, is Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland. It has been so long since her last book, and this morning I’m just glad to wake up to the Booker longlist news.

    1. Yes, I’m glad to see that there, although I think it’s one of those that isn’t yet available to the general reader. But great has been the rejoicing in our department this afternoon to see our colleague, Richard House, on the list. We are over the moon for him.

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