I hadn’t read nearly enough of the Booker longlist to make an informed prediction before it was announced yesterday, but I did anyway, on Twitter…
#manbookerprize shortlist prediction: stranger’s child, pigeon english, on canaan’s side, jamrach’s menagerie, sense of an ending, far to go
…and was way off the mark. The actual shortlist is:
Pigeon English, by Stephen Kelman
Snowdrops, by A.D. Miller
The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick deWitt
Half-Blood Blues, by Esi Edugyan
The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes
Jamrach’s Menagerie, by Carol Birch
2 out of 6 is pretty bad, but I’m actually quite pleased with the real selection. My shortlist prediction was based around the idea that more interesting, unconventional genre works would be excluded, because for some reason I imagine the Booker panel to be comprised of people like David Stratton, who cluck their tongues and stroke their beards when given something unconventional.
So it’s a shame I wasted weeks slogging through Alan Hollinghurst’s ten-kilogram novel The Stranger’s Child, but on the bright side I now have a number of books I look forward to reading. I’ve already read Half-Blood Blues, and wrongly bet that it wouldn’t make the shortlist, but I still doubt it will win. I’m currently halfway through Jamrach’s Menagerie, and not enjoying it as much as I thought I would, but it is starting to pick up a bit. I particularly look forward to reading The Sisters Brothers, a rollicking Western adventure, and Snowdrops, a literary thriller set in Moscow. The Sense of an Ending is the most firmly literary of the group, but is also quite slim and will be a breeze to read; Pigeon English is a tale about African immigrants and gang warfare in London, which I suspected would be shortlisted after the recent riots gave it a topical boost.
I’m not going to make a prediction for winner yet, but I’m definitely going to read all of them and do so before the winner is announced in October. And they’ll doubtless pick the wrong one, and I’ll bitch and moan about it, but this year I’ll be qualified to do so!