The long list announcement is barely one day old and there’s already odds posted at various betting agencies. Which always leaves me with the mental image of a some sort of cage-fight; last book left standing amongst the ravaged pages of those that couldn’t hack it.
Here is the long list:
Peter Carey – Parrot and Olivier 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)
Andrea Levy – The Long Song (Headline Publishing Group – Headline Review)
Tom McCarthy – C (Random House – Jonathan Cape)
David Mitchell – The Thousand Autumns of Jacob 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)
Interestingly at this stage, a lot of the talk is about those that didn’t make it: Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie and Ian McEwan. Various arguments are about to explain their absence, but I think the best one is the high quality of the long list. I would be fearful of having to make a bet on the September 7th short list, but I’m happy to make a no obligation stab at it based on my readings and the praise of others: Lisa Moore, Christos Tsiolkas, Peter Carey, David Mitchell and Alan Warner.
The only criticism so far that I rate is that there’s no genre fiction on there. Paul Motion, the chair of the judging panel, dismissed the exclusion as unintended but incidental to the process; though he made it a point to mention that the Man Booker Prize is an award for literary fiction and that there are plenty of awards for Sci-Fi and Crime out there. I find that a slightly discouraging mindset, a bit snobbish and blind to some of the stunning novels coming out of the genres – Peter Temple’s Truth and China Mieville’s The City & The City being excellent examples of remarkable novels often excluded from the larger awards based on outmoded conceptions of ‘literary fiction’.
Regardless, this is an excellent list and it will be interesting to see what shape it is ultimately chiseled down to.