Who will win the 2010 Booker Prize?

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Having attempted to read the Booker short list I should be in a good position to predict who will win, but unfortunately that isn’t the case. I think the field is wide open this year and I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of the books scoop the prize. Unlike previous years there is no clear winner, with each book appealing to a very different reading taste.

The six books are:

My reviews:

Room – Emma Donoghue

The Long Song – Andrea Levy stars4

C – Tom McCarthy

In a Strange Room – Damon Galgut

Parrot and Olivier in America – Peter Carey (DNF)

The Finkler Question – Howard Jacobson (DNF)

Who will win the 2010 Booker Prize?

In trying to predict the winner I think the most important thing is to look at the reading tastes of each of the judges.

The five judges for the 2010 Booker Prize are:

  • Chair: Andrew Motion (former Poet Laureate)
  • Rosie Blau (Literary Editor of the Financial Times)
  • Deborah Bull (Creative Director of the Royal Opera House)
  • Tom Sutcliffe (journalist, broadcaster and author)
  • Frances Wilson (biographer and critic)

The judges are being quite quiet about their favourite Bookers, but I spotted Andrew Motion admitting that Jacobson was  “laugh-aloud funny” and Rosie Blau describing C as “a novel blazing with energy and, for all its postmodern ambitions, a rich, old-fashioned yarn

Frances Wilson’s favourite book is Persuasion, but I’m not sure that helps us to decide which of the short list she’ll enjoy the most. If I had to guess then I’d say this would point towards her favouring the more conventional narratives of The Long Song or Room, but it is hard to say from that one tiny clue!

Tom Sutcliffe wrote that “literary merit (and literary pleasure) really lies….not in the plotlines but the lines of writing themselves” so I suspect that he will favour Peter Carey’s lyrical prose.

That just leaves Deborah Bull who is surprisingly quiet on the Internet about the type of books she likes.

All this detective work has yielded little of value, but I am convinced that for such a varied short list to have been produced each of the judges must have a very different taste in books. This means that it is unlikely they will be able to reach a unanimous decision about who should win the Booker Prize. They have already admitted that they used a points system to determine who should make the long list and I suspect they will have to use this system to generate a winner. I think this will favour C and The Long Song, as they are more likely to appear higher on every-one’s list, unlike books the others which seem to create a love:hate divide among readers.

There has been speculation that the Faber influence could lead Carey to victory, but I’m sure the judges will only be looking at the merits of each book.

If I had to place a bet then I’d put my money on C, but I was amused by this article that thinks it should miss out on the Booker Prize due to a lack of gardening knowledge!

The simple answer is that I have no idea who will win the Booker Prize. All the books have their own merits and each has its group of supporters. I’m just happy that in reading the long list I have been introduced to many wonderful new books.

I look forward to seeing who will be revealed as the 2010 Booker winner tonight.

Who do you think will win?


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32 Comments

  1. Jessica says:

    I’m hoping for Room by Emma Donoghue – the most refreshing book I have read this year. The voice is great and the plot pulls the reader in to the story.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jessica, Room is the best book I’ve read this year so I’m really hoping it will win too. Unfortunately lovers of deeper literary fiction don’t like it at all and so I think it will struggle to win. I’d love to be proven wrong though!

  2. marc nash says:

    The Bookies are saying it’s “C”. I find it amusing that the highest literary works in the Commonwealth are reduced to the odds for punters to make a bit of money, little different to betting on dogs or horses.

    My spies tell me that there has been a lot of heavy behind the scenes lobbying on behalf of certain of the titles.

    I hope “C” wins too. Jacobsen seems to be on the list not because his book is more remarkable than any of his others, but in recognition of a fine career and body of work.

    I’m off to read your review of the Galgut, because I really didn’t buy into it at all, even though the third section is quite remarkable.

    1. Jackie says:

      marc, I’d love to know which books your spies are talking about. I really hope that lobbying doesn’t lead to the wrong book winning – these prizes can be so political, which is such a shame for the author of the best book. I would be very happy if C won. It isn’t my favourite, but its originality certainly makes it stand out.

  3. Verity says:

    I’ve only read the Levy, so not in a position to comment, but I’m looking forward to some of these books being available in the library soon as I would definitely like to read Room and C.

    1. Jackie says:

      Verity, I hope that the books turn up in your library soon. I’m sure you’ll love Room and would love to know your thoughts on C – enjoy :-)

  4. Dan Holloway says:

    I think C is so much the bookies’ favourite it’s unlikely to win. I hope it doesn’t, because I think it’s on the list because the judges are playing catch-up with McCarthy and putting him on the list because he should have been there before, the same way they are rewarding Jacobsen for a body of work. Prizes, sadly, tend to work like that – the Oscars too. my only hope is it doesn’t go to Carey – with two nods already, there’s no need to acknowledge a body of work. I do wish the judges would stop shortlisting books simply because they feel the author should be on the list, and start looking at what’s actually best, but I fear that may be a wish too far.

    1. Jackie says:

      Dan, I think the Bookies are really hoping C doesn’t win, but for that very reason I’d love it to!

      I agree that I’d prefer Carey not to win. I didn’t think Parrot and olivier was anything special and as you say, who needs to win it three times?!

      I hope that one day your wish comes true :-)

  5. John Self says:

    This is an excellent and valuable summary of the position and judges as we await the decision, Jackie.

    I think Tom Sutcliffe’s comments on the lines of writing rather than the plot could just as easily favour Galgut’s In a Strange Room as the Carey – in fact the Carey is pretty chockablock with plotting.

    I also feel that Carey will not take it even though Andrew Motion, the chair of the judges, seems to like him most, because three Booker wins seems a bit much. To put it another way, if the judges were evenly split between Carey and another book, I think it would be the obvious decision to give the prize to the less well known and well rewarded author.

    My strong feeling is that it’s Galgut’s year. (I know others feel the same way about Jacobson.) I don’t know if you’ve been following the Man Booker forum, Jackie, but there the clear favourite on a points system is Galgut – but then again, the judges never seem to chime with the forum members.

    All in all, I’d be very happy with Galgut, Jacobson or McCarthy – and fairly happy with Levy. Carey and Donoghue (sorry Jackie!) are definitely trailing the field for me. Four of the books have given me great pleasure so in that sense, this year’s Booker shortlist is for me the strongest since 2004/2005.

    1. Jackie says:

      John, I was in the Booker forum quite a lot as I read the books, but admit I haven’t been in there since I finished them so was unaware they are picking Galgut as a favourite. Thanks for letting me know. I agree that Sutcliffe’s comments could just as easily be in favour of Galgut, but I have to disagree about Carey being chockablock with plotting ;-)

      I agree about this years shortlist being very strong. I didn’t like all the books, but can see why they are there. There doesn’t seem to be any dead wood this year and in reality I think all of the books have a strong chance of winning. I wish I could be a fly on the wall in that judging room.

  6. JoV says:

    I thought you paint a very objective and cover wide perspective of booker prize analysis. Of course it is all about the judges’ favourites (when is it ever the readers’ favourites?), and the prize would go to any of those shortlisted.

    Great Analysis! Big Thanks!

  7. Sandy says:

    What a well-researched post! I look to you as the expert on award lists! I haven’t read one of these books, although my book club is reading Room this month and is next up on my list. I have found that in the past, I have been left really scratching my head over Booker picks. It doesn’t always make sense to me.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, I’m sure that you’ll love Room and I’m quite jealous that you have a book club to discuss it with – I love talking about that book. Enjoy :-)

  8. I’m guessing ‘Room’, not that I’ve read it, but it seems to be the order of the day for less conventionally-literary books to take out major literary prizes – Peter Temple’s ‘Truth’, a blokey crime novel, won The Miles Franklin in Australia after all.
    Thanks for this great overview – it was intriguing to get insight into the reading tastes of the judges!

    1. Jackie says:

      baker’s daughter, The Booker prize tends to pick more conventional winners. I think Room has a very strong chance of winning the Orange prize, but I would be extremely happy if it won the Booker too :-) I’ve got my fingers crossed.

  9. Shannon says:

    I didn’t get a chance to read C or The Finkler Question so I’m not in a great position to say anything. My favourite was Room but really I think I’ll agree with any win except for Carey, it had great qualities but on a whole I just don’t think it was a good book.

    1. Jackie says:

      Shannon, I couldn’t agree more :-)

  10. Amy says:

    I still haven’t read any of the books on the short-list… also, I wouldn’t catch the gardening mistakes, but I know some would and would really hate that! Thank you for the overview, I’m interested to see who will win now!

    1. Jackie says:

      Amy, I don’t know much about gardening, but I do know several people who would find that sort of thing very irritating. I heard that David Mitchell also made a seasonal flower mistake in Thousand Autumns so I suggest all authors get their flower facts checked before publication :-)

  11. stujallen says:

    I ve only read two off list this year ,I hope C wins but have a sneaking suspcion that it’ll be Jacobson as he is a favourite in lit circles and also contemporary of lot of judges ,I felt list was a bit flat in end ,thing more I read from other places less booker means but shame some of the other books like chef by singh didn’t even make list ,all the best stu

    1. Jackie says:

      Stu, I didn’t realise that Jacobson was a contemprary of the judges….the plot thickens!!

  12. Stephanie says:

    The only one on the list that I have read is Room. I loved it and think it would be a well deserved win. I also want to read The Long Song. The only book I definitely WON’T read on the list is Peter Carey’s. I am not a fan of his.

    1. Jackie says:

      Stephanie, I have had a hit/miss relationship with Carey’s books. I think I’ll always give them a try, but I never know in advance which side of the fence I’ll fall.

  13. vivienne says:

    i definitely hope that Room wins. The storyline is just so original.

    1. Jackie says:

      Vivienne, Fingers crossed :-)

  14. LizzySiddal says:

    Jacobsen will win – only because I have no interest in reading it!

    1. Jackie says:

      Lizzy, Congratulations on a correct prediction :-)

  15. Brenna says:

    I’m dying to read Room and The Long Song. I’m also eager to find out who won! They’ve got to be announcing it quite soon.

    1. Jackie says:

      Brenna, The Finkler Question won :-(

  16. Matt says:

    I’m rooted for Room since I’m really enjoying it although it is grim. After Theft, I’m turned off by Peter Carey’s style so I won’t be reading Parrot and Oliver soon.

    1. Jackie says:

      Matt, I’m afraid Room didn’t win. We’ll have to keep our fingers crossed for the Orange Prize.

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