The Man Booker Prize Shortlist 2015

Sorry if I have been a bit quiet of late. The new job that I mentioned the other week has been a bit bonkers (in a brilliant way), I was also at Gladfest , then giving a masterclass to some brilliant new reviewers and bloggers up in Newcastle whilst also working on something secret but very fun with Lynne of Dovegreyreader which we might be able to talk about next year, sorry to be a tease. Oh and I have been reading for Booktopia Petoskey next week. Phew, it has been a bit manic!

Anyway to show I still have my finger on the booky pulse here is the Man Booker Shortlist (you can see my thoughts on the longlist here) for you all, if you haven’t seen it already.


  • Marlon James (Jamaica) – A Brief History of Seven Killings (Oneworld Publications)
  • Tom McCarthy (UK) – Satin Island (Jonathan Cape)
  • Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria) – The Fishermen (ONE, Pushkin Press)
  • Sunjeev Sahota (UK) – The Year of the Runaways (Picador)
  • Anne Tyler (US) – A Spool of Blue Thread (Chatto & Windus)
  • Hanya Yanagihara (US) – A Little Life (Picador)

I am really keen on it, obviously because Yanagihara is my book of the decade and that’s in the mix, but also because I want to read every single one of the other five. In fact I may have to buy Tom McCarthy’s Satin Island as a treat for myself (and my new job, coughs – this excuse will last months) at lunchtime. I like the mix of authors and the disparity between publishers (which I didn’t like but didn’t bemoan when the longlist came out) seems to have been more balanced out, unintentionally I am sure.

What are your thoughts? Which have you read and what did you make of them? Which do you want to read?


Filed under Book Thoughts, Man Booker, Random Savidgeness

14 responses to “The Man Booker Prize Shortlist 2015

  1. I have a Brief History and Spool in my reading stack but I’m halfway through A Little Life at the moment – it’s brilliant, harrowing and I’m completely engrossed.

  2. As always, many thanks for your thoughts. Haven’t read A Little Life yet but I have it reserved at my library. For me, A Spool of Blue Thread is one of Anne Tyler’s best and I thoroughly recommend it.

  3. Jon

    So pleased to see a shortlist that includes A LITTLE LIFE and A SPOOL OF BLUE THREAD. My two books of 2015! Couldn’t be more different from each other, apart from their technical excellence and sheer readability. Hurrah!

  4. Have read A Brief History, A Little Life and the Fishermen. All are briliiant and would be happy to see anyone of those three pick up the prize.

  5. Deborah Stevenson

    Little Life has become one of my top books of all time. I am hoping it is the winner. Spool if Blue Thread is, I think, Ann Tyler’s best ever. Loved it! Thanks for posting Simon!

  6. It seems that A Little Life is the favourite – it’s the only one I’ve read of the shortlist – and although it was unputdownable and I sort of enjoyed it, it was soap opera and had some definite faults for me.

  7. So many people keep banging on (in the nicest possible way!) about A Little Life – this has just confirmed that I really should read it! Also like the look of The Year of the Runaways.

  8. A Brief History of Seven Killings interests me most but I might, stress might, end up reading them all. My cousin did it last year but last year’s shortlist didn’t appeal to me that much. I like the look of this little lot much better.

  9. A Little Life is the only one of the longlist that made it through to the shortlist. I thought it was extraordinary though had some faults (guilty of clumsy writing on times)

  10. Janakay

    I decided to work my way through the long list this year–I take lots of the pressure off by simply trying to have them all read by the award date in October (my theory being that I might actually think the winner should be a book that didn’t even make it to the short list). At this point, I’ve read everything but “Lila” (I tend to avoid Robinson, after reading “Housekeeping”, her first novel. Beautifully written and with a story that lingered in my mind, but not on my emotional wave length) and “The Chimes;” I’m about halfway through “Sleeping on Jupiter.”

    I was pretty happy with the short list with one exception: “Satin Island”, which just didn’t work for me. Admittedly I read it quickly, so perhaps I failed to do it justice. I DID find it pretty entertaining in spots; I enjoyed its energy and off kilter narrative structure (and loved the idea of a “corporate anthropologist writing a big report!) but I would have given its spot on the short list to Bill Clegg’s “Did You Ever Have a Family” or even Enright’s “The Green Road” (you can tell where I’m coming from–I just love those dysfunctional family dramas!). I absolutely loved Marlon Jame’s “Brief History.” Its narrative structure and language made it a challenging read at times but it was worth every minute. How can you not like a novel where a ghost is one of the POV characters? The whole experience was a bit like Quentin Tarentino crossed with William Faulkner! Although I’m pulling for James to win, I also think Sahota’s “Year of the Runaways” was a tremendous, although more traditionally structured, read. He’s a gifted writer, with a knack for drawing complicated and compelling characters and for telling an emotionally gripping story. With my apologies for all those who loved it (including the gracious host of this blog), I don’t think “A Little Life” is at the same level of accomplishment as “Runaways” or “Brief History”. Although I found it a bit too much of a soap opera (especially towards the end) I must admit that it was enormously compelling emotionally and hard to put down; given its emotional power I can certainly understand why it made the short list. As for Anne Tyler–well, I’ve always loved her work. Although “Spool of Blue Thread” isn’t IMO her best novel, it’s still a very good read. In a very quiet and unassuming way, she gives you a snap shot of 20th century middle class social history in the form of a compelling multi-generational family novel. Still, I don’t think this novel is quite at the level of James or Sahota.

  11. I’ve only read A Little Life, but that book was everything – so, I think it should win. I do want to read Brief History and Spool. Looks like a great shortlist.

  12. A Brief History of Seven Killings is very, very good. 5-star book.

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