The Man Booker Prize Longlist 2017

I know I said that the relaunch of Savidge Reads would be next week, however one of the  most common comments from those of you who have done the feedback survey (which I posted earlier in the week and would love even more of you to fill in, you might win some books if you do) was that people loved hearing about prizes on here. So with that in mind here is the Man Booker longlist for 2017 which has not long been announced…

MB2017 BookStack

4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster (US) (Faber & Faber)
Days Without End by Sebastian Barry (Ireland) (Faber & Faber)
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (US) (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Pakistan-UK) (Hamish Hamilton)
Solar Bones by Mike McCormack (Ireland) (Canongate)
Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor (UK) (4
th Estate)
Elmet by Fiona Mozley (UK) (JM Originals)
The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy (India) (Hamish Hamilton)
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (US) (Bloomsbury)
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (UK-Pakistan) (Bloomsbury)
Autumn by Ali Smith (UK) (Hamish Hamilton)
Swing Time by Zadie Smith (UK) (Hamish Hamilton)
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (US) (Fleet)

What do I think of it? Well my initial thoughts (as I am literally typing this moments after the list going live) is that it is an interesting list if not a wholly surprising one. Barry, Hamid, McCormack, Roy, Saunders, Shamsie, the Smiths (not the band but imagine if Zadie and Ali made a band that would be something) and Whitehead have all been heralded and been up for several awards – if not winning them before.

This is by no means a slight as a) long time readers will know I do have a thing for the Booker b) I have read and loved the Barry, Hamid and Whitehead novels this year (reviews coming soon) and indeed love Ali Smith full stop, plus as with Ali’s I have been very keen to read the new much awaited Roy novel. I am also intrigued to get to both the Saunders and the McGregor as they have been on my TBR for quite some time. So interestingly this is one of the most instantly ‘yes I would read all those books’ Booker longlist I have seen in some years, in fact it is also one of the most ‘ooh I have actually read a few of those’ Booker linguists. Yet one of the things I love about book awards is discovering something or someone completely new to me.

This is possibly because I am a contrary old so and so but it is true. So for me the Fridlund and the Mozely are the ones I am the most keen to rush out and read now (if I wasn’t myself judging the Costa’s, though I may still have to get it). That said alongside the Mozely the other book I most want to read is the Shamsie, an author who has been up for many an award with both Burnt Shadows (which I funking adored) and A God In Every Stone (which I also thought was pretty blinking brilliant) and whose new novel feeds into my recent mini obsession of greek myths retold. So those may be three I try and squeeze into my summer/fall reading.

Which would I like to win at this point? Without a seconds thought Mohsin Hamid is my current personal favourite to win, which may shock some of you as you may know that I fell hard for the Barry. Yet, I utterly adored Exit West when I read it and it has grown on me more and more since both in the way it looks at refugees, war and love with a speculative yet oh so realistic twist or two. More on that book, and some of the others, very soon.

In the meantime… What about all of you? What are your thoughts on the list? Are you happy, is there a title or two missing for you? Which have you read and what did you make of them? Any favourites?


Filed under Man Booker, Random Savidgeness

54 responses to “The Man Booker Prize Longlist 2017

  1. mybookinggreatblog

    I’m genuinely annoyed that Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi has yet again been overlooked for a major prize!

  2. I’ve only read the Whitehead, which I thought was brilliant even if a bit muddled at the end. I’m most looking forward to reading Days Without End, Exit West, Lincoln in the Bardo, and Home Fire.

  3. Kateg

    I read Colton Whitehead and loved it, although my book group was not as keen about it. I was gifted Exit West and Lincoln in the Bardo. I am more interested in reading the former. Not so sure about the latter. I realize I am very US centric.

    • I liked the Whitehead a lot Kate, I just wanted more from the railroad, it seemed slightly unsubstantial considering the context (and title) of the book. I wanted more. Lincoln in the Bardo is one I am intrigued about.

  4. Rachael

    I was a little surprised by the list because multiple books chosen are books I want to read in the future. Usually there are books I haven’t heard of and then must go find out more about. Exit West I have read and loved. I thought it was a poignant look at the refugee situation plus being about love and relationships.

    • I thought Exit West was just blinking brilliant. It surprised me in so many ways and I loved that it accomplished so much without going on or becoming self absorbed in it’s own clever nature.

  5. The Book Club ABC Australia (see ABC iView online) did an interesting review on Lincoln in the Bardo. Haven’t read it yet. The audio version is said to be brilliant with many famous actors and a cast of 100 doing the voices. I didn’t like The Underground Railroad but know I am in the minority. Haven’t read the others but have heard of most of them.

    • Oooh I haven’t caught up with that episode yet, sounds interesting. I love it when they all have slightly differing feelings on a book. I had heard the audio was meant to be amazing.

  6. Karen

    So happy about the early relaunch! Love hearing your take on the list. The three that I’ve read, Underground Railroad, Lincoln in the Bardo, and Exit West, all have surprising aspects -actual railroad under ground transporting slaves, ghosts helping to usher Abraham Lincoln’s young son to the “afterlife”, and magical doors transporting people seeking refuge from war or oppression. All were wonderful reading experiences and remain on my best of the year list.

    • Hahaha this is a tiny dip of the toe back in before next Tuesday when all will be unleashed, well things will change a bit and I will be back much more regularly. I wanted more of the railroad in Railroad, Exit West got the speculative element just right for me, just enough, not too much.

  7. FeminstsCreate

    I’ve read the last five on the list. Re: those, well just the other day on Twitter I said the Smiths were my two favorite writers in the UK. But I have to say for imagination, both Lincoln in the Bardo and Underground Railroad win hands down (well, one of them). Of course without reading the rest (and I should be able to do at least two or three), I’d have to say I’d vote for Saunders for emotion, imagination, and brilliance.

    SPOILER: If you make me burst into tears without a second’s notice, then you deserve a prize. When the wife of the “bad parents” said, “we fucked it up,” I was wobbly at the knees. I haven’t been a bad parent (well, ask my kids), but I think it was just imagining at the end of my life (or afterlife, to be precise) realizing there’s no turning back and you can’t change something anymore is a fear I think we all share.

  8. Have only read Solar Bones myself (very much enjoyed) but have heard of most of these, and views have not always been positive. Competent and unsurprising as it is I would have liked to see more from the excellent independent presses. The Gallows Pole (Bluemoose) and We That Are Young (Galley Beggar) come to mind immediately as two that would have been strong contenders. There are many more.

    • Solar Bones is oddly the one that scares me the most. The idea that it is one sentence, hmmm. I have read one other book which used the same style and whilst it wasn’t as tricky as I expected I remember wanting it to end. Totally agree with you about lack of smaller presses being a shame.

  9. David

    I’m in two minds about this list: on the one hand it appeals to me much more than the longlists of the past few years as it is full of books I already have copies of and really want to read. On the other hand it seems… predictable and a little unadventurous (to put it another way, Americans aside, this could have been quite an exciting longlist fifteen years ago when many of these authors would have been relatively new to readers). Also, is this the most books published in the previous year we’ve ever had on a longlist?

    • I think we feel somewhat similar about this one David. I have pretty much all the books and have actually read quite a few which never normally happens. Yet I am a bit ‘oh where are all the new to me ones?’ I was talking to my friend about this and she was saying it might be because I get to know the book world more and more every year whereas before it was ALL fresh news.

  10. I’m a little disapppointed that Homegoing didn’t make it, but there a quite a few books on the list I want to read anyway ☺ And a few titles I have yet to find out about.

  11. A couple of the books available still on Netgalley though most archived. Thanks for the list. So much appreciated.

  12. I have read Days Without End by Sebastian Barry but not my favourite of his novels. I do have three others on my tbr so will probably try to get to them soon so that I can have a more informed opinion as to what will make the shortlist. I do like the sound of the Fridlund and Mozley. It would have been nice to see something from Australia.

  13. Not necessarily a question for me, as I tend to edge towards the quirky in modern novels, and I none of the ones I’ve read this year are on the list. The Auster is the one I’d be most drawn to, though I do tend to think it’s a shame that the prize was widened to include the USA.

  14. I’ve only read Reservoir 13 and I really disliked it! Got The Underground Railroad ready to read soon, have ordered 2 others to arrive this week (Zadie Smith and Mike McCormack) and have crossed my fingers and requested three more on netgalley!

  15. Rick2016

    I have almost exactly your feelings on this, Simon; it’s unusual for there to be a year where I want to read every book (like this year), but I’m disappointed by the lack of ‘wow, I’ve never heard of that book’ titles.

    I was sceptical about the decision to include American books and wonder if that’s the reason for the lack of surprises. Books from Africa, the Caribbean, Canada and Australia tend to get less exposure in the U.K. so, if they’ve been pushed out by American books, there are likely to be fewer surprises.

    The only longlisted book I have read so far is ‘Swing Time’ by Zadie Smith, which I thought was very good but not as great as some of her other books. I’m disappointed that Ayobami Adebayo missed out; I finished ‘Stay With Me’ last night and it enthralled me.

    I’d love to see an alternative Booker longlist with U.S. and U.K. books excluded, to see what other books are out there that I might have heard less about!

    • The poor Booker it can’t win. If we didn’t know the list then we are up in arms, if we do know the list we are up in arms. If we don’t know all the authors we are up in arms, if we do know them all we are up in arms. Ha. I include myself in this.

      I would have liked more books from other countries, that is probably my only major gripe when I get to the nub of it.

  16. I’m disappointed by this list. Too predictable. I want the Booker to throw me titles I’ve never heard of like His Bloody Project and The Many from last year.

    • The thing is though, if these are the best books according to the judges then isn’t that just the way the cookie crumbles.

      • Fair point, it would be ridiculous if they didnt select what they thought was a potential prize winner just so they could include a relatively unknown author. I was just hoping for more surprises

  17. Lots of familiar names, only read Exit West and was less enthralled than some by it, it tailed off for me as they travelled and was harder to keep my attention. Not sure what attracts me the most on the list, it feels a little mainstream, I like to see more counter-cultural authors and locations being represented to choose from, I’l keen to read Kamila Shamsie though and might just get Burnt Shadows and wait to hear what you think of the latest novel. Happy Reading and welcome back!

  18. Annabel (gaskella)

    I’ve only read 4 3 2 1 which I adored, but it’s not for everyone. The one I want to grab (luckily it’s on my shelf) is Solar Bones.

    • I keep forgetting that one is on the list hahaha. I feel like I know nothing about it other than it is absolutely massive which always makes me a little bit nervous.

  19. Bet

    I could NOT get into Swing Time (I haven’t been able to enjoy a Zadie Smith since On Beauty, not sure why except I find myself not caring about the characters) nor to the Sebastian Barry, which was very surprising since I have devoured everything else by him. I greatly enjoyed Underground Railroad and Exit West, both of which had a magical element that doesn’t usually speak to me, but which I found captivating.

    • I have a very odd relationship with Zadie Smith. I have read one and a half of her books. I tend to find that I like the first half of her books and then just lose interest. Snap on the magical elements working for me in Exit West and The Underground Railroad when they normally wouldn’t work, I think Exit West won me over the most with its speculative twists.

  20. Lisa Guidarini

    I pick Barry in all cases, and I should bet money because he always wins. And Days Without End is excellent.

    • Hahaha. It is excellent and if you had asked me about two months ago I would have said the same but then came Exit West, oh Exit West. A book that has grown on me more and more and more this year.

  21. ikebukuro2

    I am reading Solar Bones and I like it very much so far. I completely forget the way the book is written to find my own rhythm. Next read should be Swing Time or Lincoln in the Bardo.

  22. Pingback: things of interest. #2 // „Bird Box“ movie, excerpts and so much more. – between worlds

  23. Monica Acheson

    I am currently listening to Lincoln in the bardo on audio. It is interesting . It took awhile to get into the style. There are lots of characters and voices. It’s a full cast performance. They can sometimes change mid paragraph. If you get past the first chapter. It’s worth it. It’s darkly comic and moving.

    Also as an aside 4321 by Paul Auster is today’s 02/08/17 daily deal on audio book.

  24. I just blogged about the list earlier today too. I am way excited about reading more of the novels and predicting a winner but considering I’ve only read Underground Railroad and am starting Exit West tonight, it’s too early for me to make a guess.

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