The Man Booker Shortlist 2012…

At some point today (apparently within the next hour or so) the judges of this year’s Man Booker Prize will announce their shortlist. Each and every year, which is swiftly becoming a tradition as this blog has a big birthday this week, I like to guess the long list and then the winner of the Man Booker (and indeed the Orange Prize) even if I haven’t read all of the contenders, which we never know pre-long listing, it just seems to be part of the fun of it all and getting more discussions about books going on here, there and everywhere.

Anyway I say which ones I would like to see go through and which ones I think actually will (because I can almost guarantee my choices won’t be the panels) lets remind ourselves of the long listed novels. I have put the ones I have read, or tried to, in italics. There is a link to the only one I have reviewed so far (as I am being sparing with reviews at the mo) or DNF next to them when I couldn’t finish them, in the case of ‘Communion Town’ haven’t finished yet (HFY) as I am currently reading it in chunks a chapter here and there which is working better than a straight read was. So here is the list…

The Man Booker contenders I’ve had a crack at…

The Yips – Nicola Barker (Fourth Estate)
The Teleportation Accident – Ned Beauman (Sceptre) DNF
Philida – Andre Brink (Harvill Secker)
The Garden of Evening Mists – Tan Twan Eng (Myrmidon Books)
Skios – Michael Frayn (Faber)
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce (Doubleday)
Swimming Home – Deborah Levy (And Other Stories)
Bringing Up The Bodies – Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate)
The Lighthouse – Alison Moore (Salt)
Umbrella – Will Self (Bloomsbury) DNF
Narcopolis – Jeet Thayil (Faber)
Communion Town – Sam Thompson (Fourth Estate) HFY

Overall from what I have managed to read it has been a really interesting list this year and one where three books in particular have stuck out for me. Those are Levy, Barker and Mantel. I would be thrilled to see them in the shortlist and currently I can’t call if I would like Barker or Levy to win the most, Mantel has already won recently so I am sure she wouldn’t mind me thinking this. Joyce’s novel, which initially seems the most commercial of the longlist (along with ‘Skios’ which I liked but wouldn’t short list) is a book which has stuck with me since I have read it and one I keep thinking about, so that is on my list. Oddly, though I didn’t finish it I want Will Self on the longlist too. You see I didn’t dislike the book at all, and I know Will Self takes work to read which is fine by me, it is just a book I needed a lot more time for and one I didn’t want to gulp down and resent because I wasn’t putting enough work in, so that makes my list. Finally, because I can’t suggest a novel that I haven’t read (though I really fancy reading ‘Philida’ when I go back to normal reading in a month or two) I am going to have Thompson as my last choice, though in a way I think its interweaving short stories more than a novel (controversial and why it might not go further), because I am enjoying it, I am admiring the prose and construction of the book and think it’s a book you could return to. So my short list would look like this…

My Man Booker Shortlist

What do I think will actually make the shortlist. Well my hunch is… Barker, Beauman, Brink, Levy, Mantel and Thayil. We will see though. What do you think? Which have you read and what were your thoughts? I will post the proper short list later when it has been announced.

Oh and don’t forget the wonderful new ‘unofficial’ Booker Forum that Trevor from Mookse and Gripes has set up which you can find here. Come and have a natter there too with everyone.

Update: The shortlisted authors are… Tan Twan Eng, Deborah Levy, Hilary Mantel, Alison Moore, Will Self and Jeet Thayil.


Filed under Book Thoughts, Man Booker, Random Savidgeness

5 responses to “The Man Booker Shortlist 2012…

  1. Unsurprisingly, I’ve read none – but I loved Beauman’s previous book, and I’d like him to make the shortlist.

  2. sharkell

    I have only read the Joyce and the Mantel and really enjoyed both so will be hoping they both make it.

  3. Well, you were half right 😀

    I’ve only read The Garden of Evening Mists out of the shortlist, and I liked it. I’m about to start with Bring Up The Bodies (I needed to read Wolf Hall first, and I finished it last night), and I’m planning to try to read the others. To be honest, Narcopolis doesn’t really tempt me and the whole stream-of-consciousness element of Umbrella kind of intimidates me, but I’ll have a go.

  4. I ve only read one from actual shortlist umbrella have ordered others from library simon hope get them read in time ,all the best stu

  5. janakay

    I’ve read four on the short list: Moore’s The Lighthouse, Eng’s Garden, Levy’s Swimming Home and Mantel’s Bring Up The Bodies; I think all four deserve their spot. I’ve been very interested to see the lack of comment on Moore’s Lighthouse, which was quite a discovery for me: a dark story, beautiful, understated writing and a skillfully handled plot. As for Mantel–fabulous read, every bit as good as Wolf Hall; the “problem” with Mantel is that you simply run out of superlatives. I liked Levy’s Swimming Home and found that it stayed in my mind long after I finished it; her writing’s so spare and her style so minimalist that I think it’s easy to overlook the high level of her craft. (Levy’s another “find” for me and I’ve been tracking down her earlier work. More additions to the TBR list) As for Garden–it’s a wonderful, old-fashioned read, an interesting and complex protagoinist, exotic locale and beautifully written. I’ve had Eng’s first novel on my shelves forever; it just moved up a notch on that impossible TBR list of mine. I’m getting ready to start Narcopolis, which looks interesting. Self totally intimidates me; I’ve been intending to sample his work for a year or so; maybe his inclusion on the short list will give me the push I need.

    The three I read which didn’t make the short list were Brinke’s Philida (sort of fell apart for me about halfway through, after a gripping beginning), Joyce’s Pilgrimage (I didn’t much like it, admittedly a minority view) and Thompson’s Communion Town (intriguing in spots, but on the whole didn’t work for me). I started The Yips, but the timing for me wasn’t good so I set it aside (Barker’s another author on my “must read list”)

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