My thoughts on the 2010 Booker Long List

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I have now read all 13 books on the 2010 Booker long list (apart from the two I had to abandon due to boredom/annoyance!) and I am very impressed with the judges this year. I think that every single book deserves its place on the list. I didn’t enjoy reading them all, but found the quality of the writing to be very high. Which of the books you’ll enjoy is all down to personal taste and I think that everyone will find a selection of books on the list that they’ll love along with quite a few that won’t excite them at all.

Here is the long list ranked by how much I enjoyed reading them:

All links lead to my review of the book.

Room – Emma Donoghue 

Skippy Dies – Paul Murray 

The Slap – Christos Tsiolkas stars41

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet – David Mitchell stars41

The Betrayal – Helen Dunmore 

C – Tom McCarthy  

The Long Song – Andrea Levy stars41

The Trespass – Rose Tremain 

February – Lisa Moore 

The Stars in the Bright Sky – Alan Warner 

In a Strange Room – Damon Galgut 

Parrot and Olivier in America – Peter Carey  (DNF)

The Finkler Question – Howard Jacobson    (DNF)

Who will make the short list?

I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of the books on the short list and I think the judges will have a very hard job narrowing it down to six books, but if I had to guess then I think The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell will be the first to make the cut. It isn’t the most readable book, but I think the quality of the writing and the ambitiousness of the plot will lead to unanimous agreement about its inclusion on the list.

I wasn’t a fan, but those who enjoy quiet, thoughtful books are raving about In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut. It is the sort of book that seems to do well on Booker lists, so I’d bet on its inclusion.

I stayed up late last night in order to finish C by Tom McCarthy so I’m afraid I haven’t written a review for it yet (Edited 8th September, C review now posted) , but its intelligence and originality make it stand out from the crowd. I think it has a very high chance of making the cut.

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray also grabbed my attention. I think that its universal appeal gives it a strong chance of making it onto the short list.

Room by Emma Donoghue was my favourite book on the long list. It does seem to divide opinion, but one of those judges brought this book into consideration and I think that same judge will still be championing it. I really hope that it makes it into the final six.

The final book on the short list is almost impossible for me to decide as none of the other books are leaping out at me. I’m guessing that this means it will be filled by a book that has no appeal to me at all. Assuming that any book provoking a very negative reaction will also produce an opposite positive reaction in some readers I’m going to add The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson as the final book in my short list prediction.

My Prediction for the Booker Short list:

 

What do you think of my prediction?

Which books do you think will make the Booker short list?


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53 Comments

  1. Karen says:

    Well done on reading your way through the long list Jackie! I think that is a great accomplishment in itself let alone trying to guess what will make it to the short list! I have absolutely no idea which books will make it on to the short list but I am really hoping The Slap does – I think this book was a great achievement in storytelling – not sure if that is a requirement for the Booker or not??

    1. Jackie says:

      Karen, I’d be quite happy to see The Slap on the short list as it was one of my favourites. The same book doesn’t normally win Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Booker though – I’m not sure The Slap is literary enough to do well in the Booker, but I’d love to be proved wrong tomorrow :-)

  2. Congratulations on having read all of them – I haven’t managed a single one. Maybe I’ll finally get round to it with the shortlist. I like your predictions, they seem to agree with most bloggers’ opinions. But I guess, we just have to wait and see. There seems to be a little surprise every year.

    1. Jackie says:

      Susi, I think the surprising thing is that I don’t think I can really be surprised tomorrow – I could see any of the books making an appearance. I guess the only thing that would surprise me would be David Mitchell’s exclusion – let’s hope I’m not surprised!!

  3. Thanks for this as there is no way I’d ever get round to reading all of these. I intended to read the David Mitchell and the Damon Galgut as both are writers I admire greatly. After reading this I will also get hold of a copy of ‘Room’

    1. Jackie says:

      Yvonne, If you’re a fan of Galgut then you probably won’t enjoy Room as they are at very different ends of the reading spectrum. I’d be interested to know if this turns out to be true though so do please come back and let me know if you like Room :-)

  4. Laura says:

    Great post, Jackie. I’ve really enjoyed following your progress reading the nominees. I have no direct experience to offer but would like to see David Mitchell make the cut. And I’d like to see more women on the shortlist as well. Can’t wait for the announcement tomorrow!

    1. Jackie says:

      Laura, I’m afraid that the women just didn’t meet the standard of the men this year. I’d hate to think they’d include more women just to even out the sexes – hopefully the women will do better next year.

  5. I almost completely concur Jackie but I’ll replace the Jacobson (which I haven’t read) with the Levy (which I also haven’t read!) in order to try and level the sex balance. A lot of people are going for Mitchell, McCarthy, Murray and Galgut with the other two spots up for grabs. It’ll be interesting to see if the judges agree with that consensus.

    1. Jackie says:

      William, I can only repeat the comment I made to Laura above. I didn’t think The Long Song was anywhere near as good as Small Island (which didn’t get short listed) but I will be interested to see who is right :-)

  6. just noticed my url link was wrong so this is just to correct it!

  7. mee says:

    Oh I’ve been looking forward to the shortlist! Congrats on achieving your goal. I’ve managed to finish Room about 2 weeks ago on my holiday. Not sure if it’s literary enough to be shortlisted, but would love to see it there, as well as The Slap.

    1. Jackie says:

      mee, Room was such a powerful book and I’m sure it will still be read/enjoyed many years from now. I hope that is enough to push it onto the short list, but if it doesn’t make it then I’m sure it will be a very strong contender for the Orange prize next year.

  8. Sandy says:

    You have my total trust. I just shake my head whenever you tackle one of these lists. Amazing. I have Room on order from the library (a small wait list) and because of its length am hoping that Skippy will be ordered on audiobook. I do know that Booker doesn’t always work for me…we’ll see how it works out this year.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, I’m sure that you’ll love Room – I hope those people from your library hurry up and read it :-)

  9. Shannon says:

    Congrats on finishing the list, I can’t believe short list is out tomorrow already. I’ve only managed three so far (with one more in my pile to start soon) but that is more to do with my library not getting the books to me fast enough! Hopefully I’ll be able to get through the shortlist.

    1. Jackie says:

      Shannon, I hope that your library gets the rest in soon. I had to buy several of the books in the end as my library was pretty hopeless too. :-(

  10. Hi,
    Congratulations on completing Booker reading challenge! I haven’t read any of the books on the list. From what I have heard it looks like ‘Thousand Autumns…’ from David Mitchell will be a strong contender.

    Although I know that competitions are good for all involved (publishers, authors, readers) but still I feel a bit odd comparing books like it is a sporting event. Most of them have their own worlds built, specific sensuality. It is like comparing great painters or composers.

    I don’t take book prizes too seriously but they have serious impact on the market.

    1. Jackie says:

      CuriousBookFan, Sorry – your comment got lost in my spam pile :-(

      Thanks for the congratulations! I’m afraid you were wrong about Mitchell :-(

      I love the way book prizes force us to compare books -it helps to generate discussion about books and that can only be a good thing. Everyone has a different taste in books so we all like different ones. I don’t have a problem comparing painters either ;-)

      1. I like the discussion, too, although feel sorry for many authors left out like it is 100m race.

        Give me your top five paintings. Just to generate discussion… ;-)

        1. Jackie says:

          CuriousBookFan, I’m afraid I’m not that educated in art. I like looking at paintings occasionally and can enjoy a good discussion in an art gallery about how terrible some of them are, but I don’t think I’d be able to name 5 paintings I particularly admire, let alone my all time top 5. Sorry!

  11. Well done for reading (or at least attempting) all of the longlist, Jackie! I gave up although I intend to read the shortlist.

    As for my predictions, without having read them all, I can only guess but I agree with your first four but think The Slap and possibly Parrot and Olivier in America will make up the last two places.

    I would love to see Room shortlisted but I don’t think it will make the cut. I’d love to be wrong but I think it is too populist and not “literary” enough to win the Booker – however, I agree that it has a very good chance of winning the Orange, which often nominates more “readable” titles than the Booker.

    As an aside: I passed Room onto my mother-in-law last weekend and she LOVED it; she says it could be easily one of the most enjoyable books she has ever read. It’s one I plan on passing onto several people.

    1. Jackie says:

      Claire, You’re right – the first paragraph of this post was misleading – I’ve edited it now :-)

      I don’t think Room will win the Booker, but I think it stands a good chance of being short listed. Similar unliterary books have made it onto the short list in the past. I have my fingers crossed.

      I’d be very happy if The Slap made the list and Parrot and Olivier meets my criteria for the final book on the list so I could easily see that happening too!

      It is great to hear your MIL loved Room. I’ll be ensuring my MIL reads it soon too :-)

      1. Oh, sorry, that wasn’t a passive-aggressive comment! It was honestly just an acknowledgment that you hadn’t been successful with them all, unfortunately (neither have I!)

        I think Room is too divisive to be shortlisted but would love to be wrong – was Child 44 a longlisted or shortlisted title?

        1. Jackie says:

          Claire, Don’t worry – I never took it as an aggressive comment – it was a helpful observation :-)

          Child 44 only made the short list, but let’s keep our fingers crossed for Room’s success.

  12. Steph says:

    I’ve still only read The Slap out of this bunch, but you’re right that it’s a strong list of contenders this year – I’d be happy to read most of them. We have an ARC of C that I will probably try at some point, and I’m also really excited to get my hands on Room and Skippy Dies. Oh and I’m reviewing Trespass for the November issue of BookPage so I’ll be reading that later this month too. I can’t wait to see which books make the cut for the short list!

    1. Jackie says:

      Steph, It sounds as though you have your hands on all the ones I enjoyed most. I hope that you like them as much as I did :-)

  13. Stujallen says:

    fairly similar to what I d imagine judges would pick this year ,still think it is a safe list this year ,and it will be mitchells year ,all the best stu

    1. Jackie says:

      Stu, I’m not sure what they could have picked to make it less safe? I am very impressed with the list this year, but agree that Mitchell will probably win.

  14. Lynne says:

    You’ve got a more than reasonable shortlist prediction. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you nailed it.

    Over here, Skippy Dies is getting good advance buzz and I’m looking forward to it. The Slap and Peter Carey’s novel didn’t make much of a mark, although I plan on reading them anyway. And I’m very much looking forward to reading Room.

    1. Jackie says:

      Lynne, In previous years I’ve managed a record of 4 out 6 correct. I’m hoping to beat that this year, but I’m sure the judges won’t be that predictable :-)

  15. Jenners says:

    Sounds like a really strong list of contenders. Glad it paid off for you to read this list. I’ll be curious to see how your predictions compare to the actual picks.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, It has been a good year for the Bookers. There were points when I wondered what I was doing, but I read so many good books that it was worth it in the end.

  16. Andi says:

    I can’t predict since I haven’t read any of them, but I’m especially keen to read ROOM and The Slap. Such great premises.

    1. Jackie says:

      Andi, I’m sure you’ll love both books. Enjoy :-)

  17. Kathleen says:

    I dream I will get around to reading all of these someday but I absolutely HAVE to read Room. I tried to get it as soon as I heard about it but it wasn’t available for my Kindle yet.

    1. Jackie says:

      Kathleen, Room is released in the US on 13th September so you don’t have long to wait now. :-)

  18. I love your list and reasoning! Unfortunately, I can’t say much about it, as I have only read Jacob de Zoet which I thought was a brilliant novel.

    I’ve got The Slap on my shelf waiting to be read, but opinions are varied about it. Mainly negative, though.

    And I love to read Room, it sounds great.

    Really, I don’t let my reading by influenced much by prizes, I’ll read any book with a good cover! :-) ))))

    1. Jackie says:

      Judith, I used to be very influenced by covers, but I find prizes are generally a better indication of quality. ;-) It is all a lottery though and other book bloggers give a far better indication of whether or not I’ll enjoy a book.

  19. Annabel says:

    I’m impressed that you’ve managed that feat Jackie. Unfortunately I haven’t read any of them yet, but C, Room and Skippy Dies are on my TBR pile and the ones that appeal to me. Your shortlist seems spot on to me – well done.

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, You’ve got the most enjoyable three there – I hope you like them as much as I did :-)

  20. The six books, selected from the Man Booker Prize longlist of 13, are:

    Peter Carey Parrot and Olivier in America (Faber and Faber)

    Emma Donoghue Room (Picador – Pan Macmillan)

    Damon Galgut In a Strange Room (Atlantic Books – Grove Atlantic)

    Howard Jacobson The Finkler Question (Bloomsbury)

    Andrea Levy The Long Song (Headline Review –
    Headline Publishing Group)

    Tom McCarthy C (Jonathan Cape – Random House)

    1. Jackie says:

      CuriousBookFan, Thanks for listing them. It is the first time I’ve noticed the publishers – all different!

  21. lizzysiddal says:

    4 out of 6 – well done!

  22. Amy says:

    As always, so impressed at your ability to make predictions. I hope you get some right!

  23. Stephanie says:

    Wow I am very impressed that you read the whole longlist. The only one I have attempted to read is February, which ended up being a DNF. I really loathed the writing style.

    I will definitely be reading Room and Skippy Dies ASAP!

    1. Jackie says:

      Stephanie, I wasn’t a big fan of February either – too depressing :-( I hope you enjoy the rest of your long list reading :-)

  24. I have posted two comments on this article and none of them appeared. Technical glitch or you didn’t like my comments?

    1. Jackie says:

      CuriousBookFan, Sorry about that. They ended up in my spam pile for some reason. I always like your comments :-)

  25. Oh, I’d’ve loved both, Skippy Dies and the David Mitchell on the shortlist. Oh well…

    I’m still to read four books on the shortlist (of which I’ll be approaching at least three with an open mind*), so…

    *don’t think I’m going to get on very well with the Peter Carey!

    1. Jackie says:

      anothercookiecrumbles, I can almost guarentee you won’t get on the with Carey :-) I advise you to stay well away!!

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