Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Man Booker 2014 long list announced

The 13 novels long listed for the 2014 Man Booker Prize were announced today and as always there were mixed reactions to the selection.

Many of the UK newspapers like the Daily Telegraph reflected on the number of novels by American authors who wouldn't have been eligible until the rule change for this year's prize.  Some commented also on the paucity of female authors (three out of the 13 titles).

Were there any surprises? The inclusion of Joy Ann Fowler, best known for the best selling Jane Austen Book Club  raised a few eyebrows as did David Nicholls's listing. None of the commentators said so specifically but reading between the lines the feeling was that these were rather 'light' to be considered for a premier book prize.

Inevitably there were comments on who had not been included - many of the big names were missing in fact. No Dave Eggers, no Ian McEwan, no Will Self and no Martin Amis. But of course the big surprise as The Independent, commented, was the absence from the list of Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch. She had been considered a cert for the long list having won the Pullitzer Prize with the novel in April.

Unless I was misreading the various articles, I didn't detect a lot of enthusiasm for this year's listing. No-one actually said it was a dull list but I didn't see any great buzz either. What people found disappointing was the shortage of representation by writers from Commonwealth countries which we have grown to see as a key feature of the Man Booker prize in the past. Only one Commonwealth writer actually made it to the list - the Narrow Road to the Deep North by the Australian writer Richard Flanagan. As Rebecca Jones, the BBC arts correspondent commented: "there are no Indian or African authors and that will raise eyebrows among those who feared writers from some Commonwealth countries might get squeezed out by the new rules."

What do you think of the list? Care to take a bet on which will win eventually?

The Longlist

Joshua Ferris
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour
American
Richard Flanagan
The Narrow Road to the Deep North
Australian
Karen Joy Fowler
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
American
Siri Hustvedt
The Blazing World
American
Howard Jacobson
J
British
Paul Kingsnorth
The Wake
British
David Mitchell
The Bone Clocks
British
Neel Mukherjee
The Lives of Others
British
David Nicholls
Us
British
Joseph O'Neill
The Dog
Irish/American
Richard Powers
Orfeo
American
Ali Smith
How to be Both
British
Niall Williams
History of the Rain
Irish




6 comments:

  1. I have not read any of these, as yet....Thanks for the list.

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  2. Which books are likely to make the shortlist? I'm currently reading To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, but while it is a hilarious novel, I can't quite see it commanding lasting attention.

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