Here’s the longlist for this year’s Booker Prize:
The Yips by Nicola Barker (Fourth Estate)
The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman (Sceptre)
Philida by André Brink (Harvill Secker)
The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (Myrmidon Books)
Skios by Michael Frayn (Faber & Faber)
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (Doubleday)
Swimming Home by Deborah Levy (And Other Stories)
Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate)
The Lighthouse by Alison Moore (Salt)
Umbrella by Will Self (Bloomsbury)
Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil (Faber & Faber)
Communion Town by Sam Thompson (Fourth Estate)
I’ve set a personal record this year: I’ve only read one of the 12 (Skios, by Michael Frayn). While I enjoyed it immensely and am a confirmed admirer of Frayn, I do find its inclusion on the longlist a bit strange — farce is not a genre that the Booker usually recognizes and this is definitely farce.
The only other book that I have on hand is Bring Up The Bodies, so I had better get to it soon — I was in the minority in not liking Wolf Hall very much but will do my best to approach it with an open mind.
I’ve read and reviewed the entire longlist in each of the three previous years of this blog’s existence (well, I did cheat a bit last year with one guest review and one title abandoned — you can find previous years’ reviews far down in the sidebar on the right). I’ve checked out the 10 titles that I don’t have and confess that I won’t be attempting the entire longlist this year. I could only find four that interested me (Barker, Levy, Joyce and Thompson) so that will be my “longlist” reading. If enough of the six that I plan to read make the shortlist, I would still intend to give it a go.
Having said that, this year again looks like one where the jury has chosen to make a “statement” by including a lot of lesser known authors and overlooking well-known or well-reviewed ones (McEwan, Smith, Amis, Carey, Warner, just for a start). I don’t object to that approach but have to say at first glance that I don’t think my tastes have a lot in common with their statement.
Incidentally, the Man Booker people abandoned their popular debate forum when they revamped their website last week — a shame because that was where I got interested in online blogging and met many friends, a number of whom show up regularly in comments here. Trevor from the Mookse and the Gripes coincidentally was opening a new forum at the same time — you can find it here . If you check it out, you will find a spirited Booker discussion is already under way — in no way is that meant to discourage anyone from commenting on this post or the books themselves when I get around to reviewing them. We tend to get longer comments here and I don’t want to abandon the Booker completely.