The long list for the 2011 Booker Prize will be announced on Tuesday 26th July and I have been trying to decide which books will make the cut. Narrowing the field down to 13 books was a difficult task, but here’s a brief explanation of how I made my selection:
Authors who have made the Booker list in the past are automatically eligible for submission. A large number of these authors have new books out this year.
Wish You Were Here by Graham Swift, The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje, Pure by Andrew Miller, The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga, The Quality of Mercy by Barry Unsworth and River of Smoke by Amitar Ghosh were all books I considered adding to my long list, but gut instinct (which I’m sure will be wrong!) persuaded me not to include these books.
The Orange Prize
Another obvious place to look for contenders is the Orange Prize long list, but I’m not convinced that any of them will make the Booker list. I almost included The London Train by Tessa Hadley and Annabel by Kathleen Winter, but in the end decided that other books were stronger. I have a feeling I’ll be kicking myself for not adding one of them though!
A book I’d love to see on the long list is The History of History by Ida Hattemer-Higgins, but Ida Hattemer-Higgins’ globe trotting life means that I’m unsure of her nationality. I presume that her American birth means she has US citizenship, but if she happens to have gained dual nationality then her book definitely has the quality to make the Booker short list. Either way I’ll just keep my fingers crossed that The History of History gets the attention that it deserves.
We Had it So Good by Linda Grant has been suggested by many people, but when I tried it last week I discovered that I was about 30 years too young to fully appreciate it. The Booker judges this year are on the younger side and so I decided it probably wouldn’t make the cut.
Galore by Michael Crummey has been receiving lots of praise in Canada and it was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize this year. I’m sure I’ll love it and it is good enough for the Booker, but I wonder whether it will have been nominated and so have left it off my final prediction.
22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson is another book that I considered adding, but again I think the publishers may have submitted other books instead. Watch out for it on next year’s Orange list though!
So those are the books that I didn’t pick. Which ones do I think the Booker judges will choose on Tuesday?
My Booker Long List Prediction:
King of the Badgers by Philip Hensher
An insightful observation of British society. It didn’t have a strong enough plot for me, but I’d put my money on it winning the Booker this year.
Anatomy of a Disappearance by Hisham Matar
This is a subtle, but incredibly powerful story. I loved every word and am really hoping that it makes the cut.
On Canaan’s Side by Sebastian Barry
This book isn’t released until 4th August and I haven’t read it, but the success of The Secret Scripture leads me to believe that it could be a strong contender.
Five Bells by Gail Jones
Gail Jones has an outstanding writing quality. I haven’t read this one, but after seeing so many positive reviews it is high on my wishlist.
The Afterparty by Leo Benedictus
This is probably my favourite book 0f 2011 so far. It is original, clever and entertaining. I’ll post my review at some point in the next week, but until then I’ll keep my fingers crossed for its inclusion on the Booker list.
Cedilla by Adam Mars-Jones
I abandoned Pilcrow because I didn’t enjoy its meandering style, but I can see the quality of the prose and know that others love this sort of thing.
The Forgotten Waltz – Anne Enright
Anne Enright won the Booker Prize in 2007. I think The Forgotten Waltz is just as good as The Gathering – especially since it has a happier tone. I’d be very surprised if it didn’t make the long list.
There but for the – Ali Smith
I’m not a bit fan of Ali Smith’s books, but her last two have made the Booker shortlist and this one is receiving just as much praise.
Waterline by Ross Raisin
There tends to be one book written in dialect on the Booker long list. I almost added City of Bohane, but decided that Waterline probably has the edge over it.
Gillespie and I by Jane Harris
I have heard wonderful things about this book and am looking forward to reading it. There are normally a couple of plot driven books on the list and so I think this one will fulfil that criteria.
Edward St Aubyn – At Last
Mother’s Milk was shortlisted for the 2006 Man Booker Prize. At Last is receiving just as much praise and so I think it has a good chance of making the list.
Hand Me Down World by Lloyd Jones
It took me a while to get into this one, but despite my problems I can see that it is a well-written book with the depth that Booker judges love.
The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst
The Line of Beauty won the 2004 Booker Prize. His follow-up is receiving polarised reviews, but I’ll take that as a sign of excellence. I haven’t rushed out to read this one because The Line of Beauty had both positive and negative elements for me, but I look forward to reading this one if it makes the Booker longlist.
What do you think of my prediction?
Have I missed any obvious contenders?