Mantel for Man Booker 2009?

So today is the big day and we finally find out who is the winner of the Man Booker 2009. Its been quite a special year for me as its the first time I have read the entire longlist before the shortlist was announced. Last year I seemed to pick a longlist out of thin air and was pretty rubbish this year I was halfway there so maybe next year will be even better? I ahve to say I am split on whether I will do it next year.

I have loved reading some new authors that I may not have heard of otherwise (Adam Foulds, James Lever, James Scudamore, Ed O’Loughlin) some authors I have been to scared to read until now for fear they would be too highbrow for me (J.M. Coetzee, A.S. Byatt, William Trevor) a favourite author (Sarah Waters) a fabulous debut again (Samantha Harvey) and some authors I now want to read the entire works of (Sarah Hall, Simon Mawer, Colm Toibin, Hilary Mantel) so it has been brilliant in many ways.

There were a couple of con’s and that was the fact that it meant my reading became scheduled and slightly more pressured, and reading should be fun and occasionally it was a bit like wading in thick mud and I also worried that by reading that list I might be allienating readers in a way, plus with so many bloggers doing it were we saturating the book blogosphere? I would love your thoughts on it seriously, do you want to know all about the long list?

Back to the task in hand though and to who I think will win. Well there were many joys in the Man Booker dozen this year and though my personal favourite ‘Brooklyn’ by Colm Toibin didn’t make it onto the shortlist it was one of my reading highlights so far this year. Another reading highlight for me and the book that I would love to see win has to be ‘Wolf Hall’ by Hilary Mantel. I don’t think I have ever loved a tudor based book this much, and believe me I have read quite a lot both in my blogging and pre-blogging days, its a favourite era for me in fiction and history. Who thought i would ever enjoy a book about Thomas Cromwell, I certainly didn’t and yet I was totally there along side him to the peak of his career. I will also be there on his downfall if the rumours are true and their is a second book in the wings (I do so hope so).

There is one author that I wouldn’t mind Mantel loosing out to and that would be Simon Mawer as I though ‘The Glass Room’ was a very, very good book. I do have a feeling it may go Byatt or Waters way though, oh dear now it sounds like I am just covering my back. I want Mantel to win and thats that.

What about you who do you want to win and is it the same person as you think will actually win? Do you care? If you havent read the longlist and shortlist will you read the winner? Do you think that bloggers all blogging about the man Booker cuts people off or do you like it? Oh so many questions… 

***Please note Simon has just noticed neither his Sarah Hall or Simon Mawer thoughts are up… this will be rectified very soon!!

24 Comments

Filed under Hilary Mantel, Man Booker

24 responses to “Mantel for Man Booker 2009?

  1. Interesting stuff. I have only read 2 titles, Little Stranger and Summertime, so I’m not really in a position to comment on who I think will win. I may read the winner, I may not…most years I do eventually. I like the idea that trying to read books from the shortlist/longlist introduces you to books that you might not otherwise read, and I reckon the prize is good for raising the profile of really well written literature. But, I wonder sometimes about whether it is really helpful – there are so many good books out there which don’t even get nominated.

    • Thats the thing, there are sooo many books that I could have read instead and though I gained some wonderful additional reading and found some fabulous new authors but there were a couple, which will remain nameless I could have done without.

  2. I’ve only read the Mawer, which while good, wasn’t that good. The 2nd half was quite weak.

    My heart’s with Hilary, because it’s the book I want to read most, has had almost universal praise, and I hope for once, the judges ignore that it is the favourite to win. Just because everyone says it’s good, doesn’t mean that it isn’t.

  3. kimbofo

    Some interesting questions, Simon.

    The whole blogging thing where just a couple of bloggers read the longlist was fresh and new in 2005/06 but now it seems like all the bloggers do it and I get sick of reading every second blog about booker long- and short-listed books. Of course, I can choose not to read those posts, so I’m not complaining. But I do think the blogs become over-saturated. Mind you, I’ve added two or three posts of this nature myself, but it’s something I’ve tried to avoid as much as I can.

    That said, I did read three off the longlist – Brooklyn (which I adored), the Ed O’Laughlin book (which was disappointing) and The Wilderness (before it was even longlisted — I loved it). I do hope that Mantel wins it, even though I’ve not read Wolf Hall (it’s on the wishlist). On the strength (and breadth) of her career alone, she should be a shoe-in! But I suspect it’s going to go to Coetzee or Byatt. If you have access to BBC iPlayer, watch Newsnight Review from last Friday – the whole thing is devoted to the Booker, and it essentially comes down to those three writers.

    • I think maybe next year I will just read the ones whoch take my fancy and if its a prime shortlist maybe go with it but am not going to force myself if not. I did wonder if it had all got a little like a clique and I would hate that!

      The Ed’ O Loughlin sounded so promising but just didnt do it for me either.

  4. fleurfisher

    I could never commit to reading a whole long list,or even a shortlist. There are too many books that I know I want to read out there for me to sign up for something just because its on a list. Though being on certain lists is recommendation enough for me to look carefully at a book I might not otherwise.Of the shortlist, I’ve only read The Little Stranger and Wolf Hall. Both books I would have rushed to obtain anyway. I’d sooner Sarah Waters didn’t win for for this particular book, but Hilary Mantel? Yes, quite definitely!

    • Once I commited it was fine on the whole daunting at the start but once was underway went well. I just think I am not good at having a programmed reading list at all.

      Hoorah for Hilary too!

  5. Well I think we all know which book I’m STILL reading…maybe I will be finished in time for the announcement! I definitely DON’T want A S Byatt to win as she has made me suffer and noone should suffer in the reading of a book!

    I am intrigued by Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall (but if I do read it, it won’t be for a LONG time – I need time to recover from The Children’s Book!) but personally I was more attracted to the longlisted-not-shortlisted titles like The Wilderness and Brooklyn. They sounded like jolly good reads as well as being well written and finely crafted pieces of literature.

    Like Fleurfisher I don’t like to restrict myself to reading lists…I find that after reading one book it naturally leads me to feeling like reading certain others and I don’t like to feel that I can’t do that because I have to tick such and such a book off my list first.

    And regarding the Booker overload – I have found it interesting actually, though I do wonder whether the prize should get as much attention as it should. Who, after all, is truly qualified to judge what makes a book great and worthy of praise? Surely it is each individual reader, rather than a panel of ‘experts’. The cynic in me says it is a very successful marketing exercise rather than a competition rewarding genuine merit.

    • Rachel you must read it, though I am saying that to everyone. I am thrilled that my actual favourite won I can’t quite believe it. You can be chuffed Byatt didn’t.

      I think I need to go on the book trail and see where books take me as they go I have been missing that. I do wonder though now with the sensation reading if I am getting too samey!

  6. My official statement that is being copy & pasted today:

    My heart says Mawer; my head says Coetzee; either would make me happy but the former richer.

    I will possibly cry and throw things if Byatt wins because that was possibly the most turgid reading experience that I have had all year.

    This has been a great experience this year but I have been left feeling burned-out (especially after the TORTURE that was The Children’s Book) and I do worry about the boredom of my readers and alienating them (as Kim says, it’s boring if every second blogger are all writing about the same books). I am following it through to completion though and may watch last week’s Newsnight later before the big announcement.

    I also desperately want to win my bet as I need the cash!

  7. To answer one of your questions, I do appreciate you reading and reviewing the Bookers. There is no way I will ever come close…hell, I’m lucky to have read one of them. And though you and Jackie are both going at it , you generally have different opinions which is even better. The only book on the whole damn list I’ve read is The Little Stranger, which I loved. I’d be tickled if that were the one that came out on top!

  8. So am I still good to borrow that copy of Wolf Hall next month? *rolls eyes* Typical that it would be the one that I haven’t read yet.

  9. Looks like you got it right! Mantel was my #3 choice (after Coetzee and Waters).

    I enjoyed reading the (most of) the list this year, mostly because it was made up of books I really wanted to read anyway, but I’m not sure I’ll do it again. It did occur to me a few days ago that I don’t know of any bloggers here in the U.S. who do this kind of thing for our National Book Award (a much shorter list), so I might consider that next year.

    But wait…that would mean having to read the National Book Award winner and I haven’t liked any of those that I have read. (Some good books do get shortlisted.)

    • I would have wanted to read Byatt and possibly Mantel as pre-long list people were raving about them. I had already read Waters. Other than that most of them I didnt know bar Toibin who has always intrigued me.

  10. novelinsights

    What do you know? Should have placed a bet! 🙂

  11. oh

    No, I don’t think that so many blogging about the “list” sours, or mucks up hearing about it again. We give more weight to certain “reviewers” (like you) on such things but it’s also interesting to hear the various perspectives on the books. So, that’s that.

    As for favorites, as in winners, Byatt became one of my favorites but that’s solely based on Possession, not the current work. And Waters is good ,but too mainstream.

    So glad you read Coetze. Good stuff.

    • Coetzee I would have read eventually as have always wanted to give Disgrace a go. This was a really interesting read and takes the idea of what is fiction to a new level which I found really interesting.

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