The Booker longlist 2009

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The standard of writing on the longlist this year was outstanding. I was very impressed with the books chosen, and although I enjoyed some more than others, I felt that every single one deserved it’s place on the list.

Unlike in previous years, when I have occasionally wondered what on Earth those Booker judges were doing, this year I have enormous respect for them. They have chosen an amazing selection of books and I was very pleased to discover some wonderful new authors.

The 2009 Booker longlist, ranked by my rating
(Note: This is no reflection of the writing quality, just how much I enjoyed reading them)

The Wilderness – Samantha Harvey stars51

Heliopolis – James Scudamore stars4h

How to Paint a Dead Man – Sarah Hall stars4h

The Glass Room – Simon Mawer stars4h

The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters stars4

Brooklyn – Colm Tóibín stars3h

Not Untrue and Not Unkind – Ed O’Loughlin stars3h

The Quickening Maze – Adam Foulds stars3h

The Children’s Book – A. S. Byatt stars3h

Summertime – J.M. Coetzee stars3

Love and Summer – William Trevor stars3

Me Cheeta – James Lever stars1 (DNF)

Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel stars1 (DNF)

Deciding which books to put on the short list is going to be a very hard decision for the judges this year. The standard of the writing is incredibly high.

There were four books that stood out for me though. I am certain these four will make it onto the short list:


The final two places are harder to decide. I think it will come down to a choice between these four:


I really don’t know how the judges will make up their minds, but if I had to guess then I think the Booker short list will look like this:


The Booker short list is announced on 8th September.

Do you think my predictions will come true?

Which books do you think will make it onto the short list?

Which book from the long list was your favourite?

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  1. Violet says:

    Not read a single book book from these. But you know what? The other day I found a really cheap Hilary Mantel book with an amazing cover. I thought I had never heard of the author before. But then I went home and found out that I already had a memoir by Mantel called “Giving up the Ghost” which I did not finish. Somehow the writing style didn’t work for me. I’m wondering what to do with the other book I bought.

    1. Jackie says:

      Violet, I haven’t read any other books written by Hilary Mantel, but I get the impression that I won’t enjoy any of her books. Her writing style doesn’t seem to work for me either. Do you use bookmooch? Try swapping it!

      1. Violet says:

        No, I don’t use Bookmooch, I’m thinking of giving it to the library.

        1. Jackie says:

          Violet, That sounds like a good idea. I’m sure someone will enjoy it.

  2. FleurFisher says:

    I have only read “The Little Stranger”, and while I liked it I don’t think it is Sarah Waters at her best, and for that reason I wouldn’t want to see it on the shortlist. I have How To Paint a Dead Man out of the library (after reading your review) and I have just started Wolf Hall and have high hopes for it. On the basis of what I’ve read I’d be quite happy with your shortlist. But did you see that The Telegraph was backing William Trevor at the weekend? I know you weren’t taken by the book, but he’s been around a long time without ever winning…

    1. Jackie says:

      FleurFisher, No, I didn’t see the Telegraph at the weekend. I can’t see William Trevor winning. I know he’s been around a long time, but I don’t think his book had the quality/spark to win this year’s prize. I would be shocked and disappointed if he won.

      I would love to see The Wilderness win, but would be equally happy with The Glass Room. Both are very strong contenders.

      I hope you enjoy How to Paint a Dead Man as much as I did.

  3. Sandy says:

    I still need to get to The Wilderness, just a note to myself! I also just bought Brooklyn. I am so impressed with you. You really should be on the panel of judges for the Booker, you know that? I also have to add that I like your disclaimer at the top. One must do such things when one is in fear of being attacked, eh?

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, I would love to judge the Booker prize!! Perhaps in years to come bloggers will be eligible to judge!

      I really hope you enjoy reading The Wilderness. I’m not sure you will, as it is so sad, but I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts.

      Fingers crossed my disclaimer will prevent another arguement!

      1. Sandy says:

        You’re funny! Some people need to get a life (and a note to the complainers, don’t e-mail me and tell me that you DO have a life because I’m not buying it). I also just wanted to say that I really appreciate your dedication to answer our comments. I always know you have responded and I love it.

        1. Jackie says:

          Sandy, LOL! and thanks!

  4. Meghan says:

    I’m so interested to see if your choices pan out! I might try reading the short list. I put several of the books on hold at the library but clearly reading the Booker longlist is popular as I haven’t seen one of them yet! I did read The Wilderness though, and I think my review for that will be up in not too long.

    1. Jackie says:

      Meghan, I look forward to seeing what you think of The Wilderness. I think the Booker longlist is very good this year, so I am pleased to hear that they are all being borrowed from the library. I hope you manage to get hold of a few copies soon.

  5. John Self says:

    I think there is a solid quartet of books that most bloggers and punters seem to be predicting for the shortlist: Brooklyn, Summertime, The Glass Room and Wolf Hall.

    The Wilderness seems a strong candidate for another of the places: some people hated it but those who like it really love it. I kind of hope The Children’s Book doesn’t make it because I’d quite like to read the shortlisted titles and I dread that one. I was going to say that two 600-page books on the shortlist would be a bit excessive, but I’ve just remembered that last year there were two 700-page books on it…

    From other opinions I’ve read, I’d say Heliopolis is a long shot for the shortlist. But then I thought The White Tiger and The Gathering were long shots last year and the year before, so what do I know?

    1. Jackie says:

      John Self, It is interesting to see that you think there is a different strong quartet, but am pleased to see The Glass Room on it. I really hope that The Wilderness or The Glass Room win this year.

      I think that everyone appreciates the strength of The Wilderness, but anyone with personal experience of Alzheimer’s finds it very hard to read. It brings up some very powerful emotions, so I can see why people would say they didn’t like it. I’ve got my fingers crossed for it!

      1. John Self says:

        Well the strong quarter I mentioned does include three that you’re tipping for the shortlist, so there’s not that much difference! I’m not commenting on the books themselves (I’ve read only three of the longlist titles), but just trying to gauge opinion generally, mostly based on the Man Booker site. That’s where I get the impression that those four are strong contenders.

        1. Jackie says:

          John Self, I’ve just been over to the Man Booker forum for the first time. Some very interesting posts over there – I’ll have to go back and visit more often.

  6. claire says:

    I haven’t read any of these yet, but basing on reviews I’m betting on Summertime. I also secretly wish that How to Paint a Dead Man gets in there, though I have no idea what it’s about other than it’s about art, my other passion besides books. Lol. I didn’t read deeply into reviews, because I like to get into a book with surprises.

    1. Jackie says:

      Claire, I would love to see Sarah Hall make the list, but although I loved it I think it will just miss out.

      I don’t blame you for not reading the reviews – I like to avoid all reviews until I have finished reading the book too.

  7. Beth F says:

    Haven’t read them and can’t judge, but several of your reviews caught my interest. I’ll just have to sit on the sidelines and await the results.

    1. Jackie says:

      Beth, I hope you’ll find the time to read some of great books from this list. They really are good this year.

  8. Claire says:

    The longlist is extremely impressive this year. As you know I am still making my way through them so won’t make a formal prediction until next week (I still won’t have read some but I am guessing that my prediction will look somewhat like yours). I think How to Paint a Dead Man may make it onto the shortlist but at the price of whom, I can’t say. Although I would like to see How to Paint a Dead Man, Heliopolis, and The Wilderness (my favourites, in no particular order) all make the cut, I can only see 2/3 on there.

    1. Jackie says:

      Claire, It is good to know that we have the same top three. I’m not sure how many of them will make the cut though. I think 2/3 might be slightly optimistic. We can keep our fingers crossed though, and I look forward to reading your predictions.

  9. Kari says:

    Wow, I give you serious props for reading all of those!

    1. Jackie says:

      Thanks Kari!

  10. Andreea says:

    The list contains many good books. Some of them are on my reading list. I hope I’ll get to read them soon.

    1. Jackie says:

      Andreea, I look forward to reading your thoughts on the list.

  11. raidergirl3 says:

    I’m very impressed you’ve read them all!
    You DNF’d Wolf Hall and then think it will be on the short list? interesting.
    I look forward to seeing how your list compares with the Booker short list.

    1. Jackie says:

      raidergirl3, I know! Wolf Hall is very skillfully written, but I don’t enjoy studying each page to try to tease the meaning from it. It is too much like hard work – I read for pleasure and that felt too much like studying. Booker judges like that kind of clever writing though.

  12. Matt says:

    The longlist this year is pretty impressive. I venture to say that any one of the books could make it to the shortlist. I have only read Brooklyn so I’ve got so much work ahead of me! How to Paint a Dead Man, The Wilderness, and The Glass Room are on my shelf.

    1. Jackie says:

      Matt, I think you are right. I wouldn’t be that surprised if any of them turned up on the short list (apart from Me Cheeta maybe?) The list is very strong this year. I hope you enjoy reading them.

  13. Melody says:

    I haven’t read any of those books listed here but I’m going to check them out. I’ve heard a lot of great things about The Children’s Book so that will be the first book I’ll check it out soon! :P

    1. Jackie says:

      Melody, I hope you enjoy it. I found there was too much detail, but some people love that. I look forward to reading your thoughts.

  14. mee says:

    Congratulations on finishing the longlist! What an accomplishment! I know you’ve been raving about the Wilderness, but I’m just not sure if I’d like it. I am interested however with the others that you liked, like Heliopolis, The Glass Room, How to paint a dead man. I personally would love to try The Children’s Book. But I’ve never read Byatt and I’m a bit intimidated by her. Anyway, congrats again. I’ve been enjoying the reviews.

    1. Jackie says:

      mee, The Wilderness isn’t for everyone – it is very sad and I think it would make very difficult reading for anyone with personal experience of Alzheimer’s disease. The other three books will be a lot easier to read, so may be a good start. Have fun!

  15. I’ve just read two of the books on the shortlist, and reckon there are another two waiting for me, when I return from holiday (Summertime and The Little Stranger).

    You’ve gotten me quite excited about The Glass Room, so I’ll definitely give that a shot as well.

    I don’t really fancy reading Wolf Hall and The Children’s Book from what I’ve read about both, so, I’d be quite disappointed if one (or both) appeared on the shortlist. Also, Love and Summer just doesn’t grab my fancy.

    1. Jackie says:

      anothercookiecrumbles, I am sure you will love The Glass Room. You should be excited! I will be interested to read your thoughts on Summertime – it is very different!

  16. Diane says:

    It is amazing to me that you have read all the Booker Long List Books. You should win a prize..LOL How great!

    1. Jackie says:

      Thanks Diane!

  17. I haven’t read any of those. It seems like only yesterday that they released the long list for the 2008 nominees.

    1. Jackie says:

      DamnedConjuror, Time flies doesn’t it?!

  18. Annabel says:

    I’m impressed you’ve managed to make it through all that lot!

    I’ve read two (Sarah Hall – VG and Me Cheeta – fun), and got Byatt, Mantel, Harvey and Walters in the TBR mountain. The book that attracts me the most is ironically one I haven’t yet managed to buy and that’s ‘The Glass Room’ – I will have to remedy that, but I will also have to buy the Coetzee, Scudamore and Toibin too – or should I wait until the Book People do their shortlist bargain bundle? It will be fascinating to see which make it through ….

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, The Glass Room is an amazing book. I really hope that you manage to buy a copy soon. I am sure you will enjoy it.

      I didn’t realise that the Book People did a bundle. It is too late for me, but good to know for the future!

  19. What a great site! I’ve been browsing a lot of bookbogs recently and they’ve all made me partly regret that most of my free time is spent on writing instead of reading (but only partly). Actually,it’s my money-earning job that’s the real culprit. Whatever! I just wanted to say how refreshing it is to see such honest and objective reviews, providing useful information about the book’s content and giving your own opinions in an entertaining way, while making it clear that the negative comments are a matter of personal taste,rather than a lofty judgement about quality.

    I haven’t read any of these books yet, but The Children’s Book is one I I’d put on my TBR list as I loved Possession, and I think I’d be likely to enjoy some of those you didn’t but would also love some of your favourites.

    I’m in a book-reading group and it’s a rare book that we’re all in agreement about.

    Thank you for this useful list of short-listed reviews – I’ll print them off and bring them to our next meeting this Wednesday

    1. Jackie says:

      Christine, Thank you so much! It feels a bit weird to know that you will be talking about me at your next book group! I hope you find it useful, perhaps you should all read The Glass Room? It really is an amazing book, which I think everyone will enjoy. Perfect for a book group, as there is so much to discuss.

      Please come back and let me know your thoughts on any books that you read.

  20. Jackie, I find the whole internet totally amazing – so, yes, I guess it is a bit weird.
    I’ve printed off your reviews now – all I’ll have to do is remember to bring them with me to the meeting on Thursday.

    I’ll get back to you with the group’s reaction about these books – I have a feeling that they won’t be too keen on the Glass Room (or The Children’s Book)

    1. Jackie says:

      Christine, The Children’s Room is probably a bit too long for all but the most dedicated of book groups. I hope you have a great time, whatever you decide to read!

  21. kimbofo says:

    Well done, you got four out of six correct.

    Who do you think will win? I haven’t read Wolf Hall, but I think it’s in with a good shot.

    1. Jackie says:

      Kimbofo, I’m pleased that O got 4/6 right, but it is a shame that my favourites didn’t make it onto the list.

      I think Wolf Hall will win, but I really hope that The Glass Room does.

  22. Laura says:

    Nice work on your predictions!
    And I’m so impressed you’ve read the entire longlist. It would be fabulous if you could post your individual reviews of all these books over at <A HREF=";

    1. Jackie says:

      Thanks Laura! I’ll try to add them in the next few days.

  23. Jacky says:

    Hi Jackie
    Didn’t really understand: you ranked Wolf Hall as one star but predicted that it would be one of the short listers for the Booker because it ‘stood out’ for you. I’m a bit confused.

    1. Jackie says:

      Hi Jacky, Sorry for the confusion! Just to clear things up – I hated reading Wolf Hall. I was very frustrated with it and couldn’t make it to the end – hence the one star.

      I do know what the Booker judges like though. They love literary books which require hours of analysis – hence the prediction.

      I prefer books with a great plot and engaging characters, not spending hours studying them. It all depends on which type of book you prefer. I hope that makes sense?


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