The 2009 Booker Shortlist

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The 2009 Booker shortlist has just been announced. The six books chosen were:.


I am so disappointed that my favourite books didn’t make it. I had hoped that at least one of my top three would, but unfortunately they didn’t, so I’ll just have to remind you that I recommend these three books:

The Wilderness – Samantha Harvey stars51

Heliopolis – James Scudamore stars4h

How to Paint a Dead Man – Sarah Hall stars4h

This year’s shortlist contains all the big names and I am so sad that the lesser known, but equally talented, authors were ignored. Coetzee, Byatt and Mantel are all great authors, but their books concentrate on writing, at the expense of a good plot. A really talented author is capable of producing a book which everyone enjoys. For that reason I am hoping The Glass Room wins.

Simon Mawer has produced an amazing book, which manages to combine stunning prose with a compelling plot. I really hope the judges can make up for their poor shortlist selection by crowning Mawer the Booker winner 2009!

What do you think of the shortlist?

Do you think they made the right choice?

Which book would you like to win?

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  1. Steph says:

    Jackie, when I saw the list, I immediately thought of you and was sad to see The Wilderness didn’t make the shortlist. I wasn’t surprised to see Byatt & Coetzee make the list (I’m sure few are), but I was taken aback when I read that Wolf Hall had! Based on your review, it really doesn’t sound like the kind of book I’d want to read, and I recalled that you disliked it so much you couldn’t even finish it. How do you feel about The Little Stranger making the cut? Do you think this is another case of the author’s name having more sway than the book itself being worthy of the Booker?

    1. Jackie says:

      Steph, I’m not surprised to see Wolf Hall on the list, in fact I think it will win. I didn’t like it at all, but some people love it. You just have to enjoy studying books as opposed to reading them. I’m sure it is a great book, you just have to spend hours teasing the meaning out of every sentence – something I don’t enjoy doing.

      I was surprised to see Little Stranger on the list. Sarah Waters is one of my favourite authors, but I didn’t think this book was ‘literary’ enough for the booker prize. It was very easy to read and will appeal to the mass market, but I didn’t feel it was anywhere near as strong as the other books on the list. I would put it in last place for literary merit.

  2. Dan Holloway says:

    This year’s shortlist reminds me of when the Tories decided Ian Duncan Smith would be a good leader. It smacks of something in its death throes slowly eating itself. Which is rather sad. It IS, as you say, wonderful to see the Glass Room there. I think in a week’s time it may dawn on them that it HAS to win if the Prize is to be taken seriously in the future. I just hope they have the guts to go through with it.

    1. Jackie says:

      Dan, LOL! Some times I wonder why I follow the Booker prize – it disappoints me so often. I really hope that The Glass Room wins. Fingers crossed!

      1. Dan Holloway says:

        I know. I’ll keep following it whatever. Even if only to moan about it :-) . It’s become a little like the literary Eurovision. We know it’s a stitch up, and we love to say “why do we never send any real bands?” but we just can’t help watching. Fingers very crossed for Mr Mawer

        1. Jackie says:

          Dan, Sometimes moaning is the best part!

  3. Sandy says:

    You have been in there plugging for The Wilderness since you read it, and they keep dissing you! I have no viable opinion on any of these, except for what you and Simon have been saying. I do know that contrary to popular opinion on the blogs, I did love The Little Stranger on audio. I’m still thinking about it, and I listened to it in July, if that tells you anything. I sure wish I could be a fly on the wall of that panel of judges. You wonder what they are thinking.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, I did enjoy The Little Stranger and it was in the top half of my long list, but I don’t think the quality of the writing matched the rest of the longlist. The Booker prize is supposed to be a literary prize, so I am very surprised to see it there. I’d love to know what those judges were thinking!

  4. Claire says:

    You already know my thoughts, which are similar to yours.
    I wanted to say though that I’ve started to read The Glass Room this afternoon and so far am LOVING it!

    1. Jackie says:

      Claire, The Glass Room is an amazing book. I’m sure that by the time you’ve finished it you will want it to win.

  5. Nicole says:

    I have neen hearing about The Little Stranger for so long that I thought it came out way before now. I don’t think I realized that it was so recently. I am usually up on all the prizes and nominees, but this year I haven’t read a single one.

    1. Jackie says:

      Nicole, The Little Stranger has been out since May. It is a very good book – I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading it.

  6. I haven’t read any of the shortlist, and I just don’t have the inclination to read Wolf Hall. I don’t know why, but, I just don’t want to read it. So much for reading the entire shortlist!!!

    Knowing my luck, it’ll win! If it does, I reckon all hell will break loose on your blog :)

    As I didn’t read the entire long list, I don’t really think I should have an opinion, although I would’ve loved How To Paint A Dead Man to feature on the shortlist. That said, it’s not really surprising that it didn’t.

    1. Jackie says:

      anothercookiecrumbles, Wolf Hall is a difficult book to read. It is so long and requires a lot of thought/concentration. I can see why it intimidates so many people. If it wins then I may try it again in 10+ years time, but I know that for the time being it just isn’t for me.

  7. mee says:

    If I were to put my money on blind guessing the winner, I’d put it on The Children’s Book :) . I do hope that your contender wins. Either way I think I’m gonna read the Glass Room after your recommendation.

    1. Jackie says:

      mee, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Children’s Book won. I’d put it second in the list if I had to guess. I hope you enjoy The Glass Room.

  8. Rebecca Reid says:

    I like how you’ve done this! well done, in reading them all. I am most looking forward to reading The Children’s book and The Glass Room, based on yours and other’s reviews.

    1. Jackie says:

      Rebecca, I look forward to your thoughts on those books. I am sure you’ll love The Glass Room and you’ll probably enjoy The Children’s Book if you love emerging yourself in the detail of the book.

  9. Teresa says:

    I’m so impressed that you’ve read them all! I’ve not read any of the shortlisted books, except for 1/2 of The Quickening Maze, which I’m liking quite a lot, but I don’t necessarily need heaps of plot if the writing and characters win me over. I did love both Brooklyn and The Wilderness, so I would have been happy to see either of those shortlisted.

    It’s interesting that last year the talk about the shortlist was that it was mostly new or not-so-well-known authors, and this year it’s the opposite. I guess a lot depends on the sensibilities of each year’s panel.

    1. Jackie says:

      Teresa, I did like the way new authors were represented last year. I don’t object to big names making it onto the list if I feel their book deserves it, but this year I think there were a few cases where the unknowm authors were better. Perhaps next year they’ll get it right!

      1. Teresa says:

        I totally understand that. I like a mix of old favorites and new finds in my reading, so I’m inclined to like it in my awards lists. So far, though, I have liked what’s I’ve read on this year’s list more than last year’s. (I didn’t read everything last year; I think I managed 7 total.)

        1. Jackie says:

          Teresa, You’ve probably read more of last year’s list than me! I think the long list this year was the best I’ve ever seen, but the short list is quite disappointing. Despite the fact I am disappointed I think the quality is much better than last year.

  10. Violet says:

    I was hoping The Wilderness would make it based on your review Jackie. I hope The Glass Room wins, I trust your choices :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Violet, Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

  11. Simon S says:

    I feel that I can say this on another persons blog rather than mine hahaha and say am disappointed. Part of me almost wants to say how on earth did Sarah waters get short listed, I love her writing just not this book. But then the writing was good and the twist was clever. Hmmm its an interesting selection.

    1. Jackie says:

      Simon, I know exactly what you mean. I love Sarah Waters’ books, and really enjoyed The Little Stranger, but I was surprised it even made the long list, it just didn’t have the same quality of writing as the other books. I’d love to know why it made the list and whether we are missing something amazing.

  12. Jenny says:

    I agree with you about the list – it does seem to be more about the big-name authors than the books themselves. I want to read The Glass Room particularly. And The Children’s Book, but mainly because it’s not out yet here (grrrr) and it has Oscar Wilde in it. :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenny, I hope you enjoy The Glass Room – it is an excellent book.

  13. After reading your review (and others’) i really thought that the Wilderness would have made it.

    1. Jackie says:

      J.T. Oldfield, It is a shame. I thought it was amazing. Nevermind, at least she got shortlisted for the Orange prize.

  14. Samantha says:

    Oh this post made me chuckle as I found that not much that I enjoyed (of the ones I read) had made the list. I did like The Quickening Maze though and thought it a good contender. I am now trying to finish The Childrens Book and The Glass Palace before the winner is announced!

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