Man Booker Prize shortlist announced
The shortlist for this years Man Booker Prize was announced this morning in London. Since the judges seem to have got the notable omissions out of the way when they assembled the longlist (Ian McEwan, Martin Amis) they’re not the big news this time round, though the two books many will note the absence of are Christos Tsiolkas’ The Slap and David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. Not having read the whole list I’m not really in a position to guess at the likely winner, but I would say that Emma Donoghue’s fictional reworking of the Natasha Kampusch story, Room, has been attracting a lot of attention, and while Tom McCarthy’s C has probably slipped under many people’s radar, if it’s made it to the shortlist I think it’d have to be the dark horse candidate. It’s also pleasing (not least because I’m an admirer of the book) to see Peter Carey shortlisted for Parrot and Olivier in America.
The six books on the shortlist are:
Peter Carey, Parrot and Olivier in America
Emma Donoghue, Room
Damon Galgut, In a Strange Room
Howard Jacobson, The Finkler Question
Andrea Levy, The Long Song
Tom McCarthy, C
In other award-related news, Sunday saw the announcement of this year’s Hugo Award for Best Novel, which was split between China Mieville’s The City and the City and Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl, a result which seems about right to me.
The City and The City was one of those interesting ultimate failures, I thought – fascinating on the mechanics of being taught not to see, but muddled as to the working out of the plot. (See also Bangkok 8 – the world described so new as to be like being child again for the reader, with no patterns yet established and everything a new and singular experience. The last 20 pp a farrago…)
Thanks, James, for the news and your post!
I’m not sure I agree with you that TCATC is a failure, but I do agree that its final pages are a bit unsatisfying. But that seems to me to be a function of the plot structure it adopts, and its deployment of a fairly generic thriller/crime novel story as a framework for the world and the political observation. But that seems a pretty minor complaint next to the sheer cleverness and skill of the whole, and the potency of the metaphor. Haven’t read Bangkok 8 but will check it out – my brother is a big fan of John Burdett. I’m sure you noticed TCATC’s co-winner, The Windup Girl, is also set in Bangkok . . .
Thanks for your reply…
I think I equate “unsatisfying” with “failure”. Sometimes I forgive & sometimes I don’t, I suspect. Depends on the degree of satisfaction-ebb as the book progresses.
Haven’t read Windup Girl. I will put it on the ever-growing list.
I’m intrigued by the survival of the Damon Galgut book, even more than I was by its inclusion on the longlist in the first place. It’s not that it’s a “bad” book, but I didn’t think there was anything particularly distinguished about it, certainly not enough to get it this far.
I’m supposed to be reviewing it this week (though I haven’t actually got the book yet, so I haven’t actually read it) which means I can’t really comment, but I must say I was a bit non-plussed by the response to the first couple of Galgut’s books, both of which seemed to me to be interesting but unsuccessful, and rather too deeply in the thrall of Coetzee.