The 2011 Man Booker Prize Long List

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The Booker long list has just been announced and I think it is fair to say that it is as surprising as Susan Hill promised it would be.

The list is packed with titles from independent publishers and I was pleased to see a few titles that I hadn’t heard of. It is refreshing to see a list so clear of the usual suspects and I’m looking forward to trying them all.

The only downside is that I have tried reading three of the titles already and wasn’t bowled over by any of them.

The 2011 Booker Long List

The Sense of an Ending

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

I was surprised that this was selected as I had it down as a novella and therefore not eligible for the Booker.

 the story of one middle-age man coming to terms with the mutable past.

I think I’m too young (and the wrong sex) to fully appreciate it, but I look forward to being proved wrong!

On Canaan's Side

On Canaan’s Side by Sebastian Barry

This isn’t released until the 4th August, so not much is known about it yet.

Spanning nearly seven decades, it is a novel of memory, war, family-ties and love….

I can see myself enjoying this one.

The Sisters Brothers

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

A blackly comic witty noir version of Don Quixote

This book was already high on my TBR pile after I read Gaskella’s very positive review. I can’t decide whether to dip into it straight away, or save it until last.  

Half Blood Blues: From Berlin to Paris. Two Friends. One Betrayal

Half Blood Blues: From Berlin to Paris. Two Friends. One Betrayal by Esi Edgyan

1930s Berlin, the threat of imprisonment and the powerful desire to make something beautiful despite the horror.

I hadn’t heard of this one, but it sounds as though it could go either way for me.

 A Cupboard Full of Coats

 A Cupboard Full of Coats by Yvvette Edwards

I hadn’t heard of this one either and since it isn’t released until September it will be a while before we do.

Jinx is forced to confront her past, and with the pain of remembrance comes the possibility of redemption.

I’m not very excited about reading this one, but my expectations are often proved wrong.

 
The Stranger's Child

The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst

An epic story of two families and two houses spanning the entire 20th century.

As a previous winner of the Booker prize Hollinghurst is now the favourite to win this year. I had mixed feelings about The Line of Beauty, but am interested to see how this compares.

Pigeon English

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman 

A story of innocence and experience, hope and harsh reality.

I wasn’t a big fan of Pigeon English, but it does seem to divide opinion. Don’t believe the “if you love Room, you’ll love this” quotes on the book though!

 
The Last Hundred Days

The Last Hundred Days by Patrick McGuinness

The socialist state is in crisis, the shops are empty and old Bucharest vanishes daily under the onslaught of Ceaucescu’s demolition gangs.

I have heard nothing at all about this book, but it sounds different. I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s like.

Snowdrops

Snowdrops by A.D. Miller

…an intensely riveting psychological drama that unfolds over the course of one Moscow winter.

I suspected this would turn up on the long list, but I struggled to see its charm. If you like slow, gentle thrillers then this may be for you.

Far to Go

Far to Go by Alison Pick

One family’s epic journey to flee the Nazi occupation of their homeland, and to save the life of a six-year-old boy.

I have read so many books on WWII that this one will have to be very special to impress. I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

The Testament of Jessie Lamb

The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers

Anyone who becomes pregnant will automatically develop a form of CJD which ultimately kills them.

I hadn’t heard of this one, but I LOVE the sound of it. I ordered a copy straight away and am looking forward to diving in.

Derby Day

Derby Day by DJ Taylor

…an unputdownable Victorian romp.

I love the sound of this one too! Who can resist a good Victorian mystery?

Jamrach's Menagerie

Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch

…brings alive the smells, sights and flavours of the nineteenth century.

I had mixed feelings about this book, but others seem to have more luck.

My thoughts on the list

This is the most interesting Booker long list that I’ve ever seen. It contains a good range of books and many of them sound as though they will not only be well written, but engaging too. I will withhold final judgement until I’ve tried them all, but for now I’m too interested in reading them to worry about the fact that I only predicted two correctly.

What do you think of the Booker long list?


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42 Comments

  1. Annabel says:

    Naturally – I’m plumping for the Sisters Brothers which I adored! (Ta for the link), I didn’t know it was eligible. I bought the Patrick McGuinness the other day and am looking forward to reading it. Love the sound of the Jane Rogers (loved Mr Wroe’s virgins by her some yrs ago). I have Snowdrops too. A couple of others sound interesting too, but I don’t know anything about them.

    As to Barnes, Barry & Hollinghurst – not bothered really. I think Susan Hill was right.

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, I’m really excited about reading The Sisters Brothers – it was second on my pile before the Booker was even announced. It is good to hear that you’ve enjoyed Jane Rogers in the past – that makes her new book even more appealing. I love this Booker list!

  2. Shannon says:

    Haven’t heard of any of these books or authors so I’m looking forward to reading through the list (or my attempt to). I’m also proud to see 3 Canadians on the list!

    1. Jackie says:

      Shannon, It has bee a good year for Canadian fiction. Congratulations on your trio!

  3. Steph says:

    I didn’t recognize most of the titles on this list, which I guess is a refreshing change! I actually will be reviewing The Stranger’s Child for BookPage, so I hope it’s good! And I think I’m one of those people who is glad Pigeon English isn’t only for those who enjoyed Room, since as you know, I did not care for that book at all! Not that I’m really all that interested in PE, to be honest, but the Room comparison certainly wasn’t going to earn it any points in my book! :D

    1. Jackie says:

      Steph, Despite your hating of Room I can’t see you liking Pigeon English either – I’d be interested to see your take though.

      I look forward to comparing notes on The Stranger’s Child. I can’t see myself loving it, but I imagine that I appreciate its quality. Let’s hope we enjoy our Booker reading :-)

  4. Stephanie says:

    I am ashamed to say that I am not familiar with any of these titles. I am not sure if that’s a good or bad thing! I definitely want to check out Derby Day and The Testament of Jessie Lamb. I will look forward to your thoughts on the other books!

    1. Jackie says:

      Stephanie, I don’t think many people will be aware of these books – it is quite an obscure list. Let’s hope they are as good as they sound.

  5. David H says:

    It’s definitely an interesting list — I’d suspect that most people will be unfamiliar with at least a few of the titles. I hope the shortlist will be as interesting!

    1. Jackie says:

      David, I can’t even begin to predict the short list at this stage, which I guess is a good thing. It will be interesting to see if it is easier to predict once we’ve read them.

  6. Amused says:

    I agree that the list is so very diverse. I am intrigued to see what I think of them as well. I usually find a few gems and others I find myself scratching my head. Time to get reading!

    1. Jackie says:

      Amused, I like it when the list is diverse enough for everyone to find something to enjoy. A good list will something for everyone to love (and hate) I’m hoping this list will satisfy that criteria.

  7. Helen says:

    I’ve only read two of those – Jamrach’s Menagerie, which I loved, and Far to Go which I also enjoyed, though I was surprised to see it on the list. I’m not familiar with any of the others but I’m looking forward to the new Sebastian Barry and Derby Day sounds like my type of book too.

    1. Jackie says:

      Helen, I was sent a copy of Far to Go by the publishers and it didn’t jump out at me. I will have to see if it reveals some magic on further reading. Let’s hope we enjoy the Barry. :-)

  8. mee says:

    I found your post to be a lot useful than the Booker site! Yesterday I checked they only had the flat list, without any details of each book. Yours has covers and commentary. Excellent! :D I have to wait and see more reviews to know if I’m interested in any of them. But I like that there are quite a few newcomers.

    1. Jackie says:

      mee, I’m pleased that you found my post useful. Hopefully it wont be too long before I start providing you with a few reviews too :-)

  9. I’m really pleased with the list too! I wasn’t sure if I would take the time to read all 13, but this list really excites me. It’s not a terribly friendly list for U.S. readers, but I’ve managed to track down a copy of two-thirds of them so far, and that’s a good place to start. Happy reading!

    1. Jackie says:

      Carrie, Sorry to hear that the list isn’t very US friendl, but congrats on tracking down so many. I look forward to comparing notes on them all in the coming weeks.

  10. Laura T says:

    Coincidentally, I’ve read the same two books from the longlist that you have and wasn’t too impressed with them either! I’ve not had great experiences with the Booker Prize choices in the past (although the 2009 shortlist, when Wolf Hall won, was fantastic) and am only really interested in reading the Barry and Hollingshurst at the moment. Although ‘The Testament of Jessie Lamb’ does sound intriguing, partly because it looks so thriller-esque and out of place!

    1. Jackie says:

      Laura It is nice to know I’m not alone in finding those books a bit average. I have a love/hate relationship with the Booker, but normally find enough gems to make reading the lists worthwhile. I’m hoping that will be the case again this year. I’ll let you know if I find anything really good :-)

  11. Luci says:

    I’m quite pleased and excited by the unpredictability of this longlist, even if it gets narrowed down to a list which is rather less surprising.

    I’ve read Jamrath’s Menagerie, which was strange, I’m glad I read it but didn’t love it, and Half Blood Blues – I’ve just finally written my Bookbag review and hope it does well and gets some attention from the longlisting.

    I’ve seen A Cupboard Full of Coats in a shop and wanted to read it – I just checked and it is available in trade paperback now (published April), the September publication is mass market pb.

    1. Jackie says:

      Luci, I agree that the short list probably won’t be that exciting (I always seem to prefer the books left on the long list each year)

      Thanks for correcting me on A Cupboard Full of Coats – not sure how I missed the trade pbk release :-( The good news is that we don’t have to wait to read it. I’m looking forward to it.

  12. Luci says:

    Oh, and I have Far to Go out of the library – I’ve also read a lot about WWII, before and after, and realised after I picked up the reservations last week that I’ve borrowed 2 recent novels about Kindertransport. I’ll have to read Far to Go quite soon now, as I expect reservations to go on.

    1. Jackie says:

      Luci, Please come back and tell me what you think of it. Enjoy!

  13. I hadn’t heard of any of these books, although when I saw the cover, I realised I’d seen Pigeon English before – here, on your blog.

    I’m not sure what to think, very little, probably. I don’t care too much about long and shortlists for prizes so I won’t read them for that reason, only if I think they may be interesting for me.

    It sounds like you’re going to read them all? Have fun!

    1. Jackie says:

      Judith, I used to read them all, but released that I hate wading through a book I’m not enjoying. I’ve learnt that I can’t tell if I’ll like a Booker from the description so will try every book on the long list. 50 pages of each should be enough to let me know if I’ll enjoy it. I’ll then finish all the ones that are to my taste and let you know which you should get your hands on. :-)

      1. Definitely a great idea. I let you do all the pre-reading and if you approve them, I’ll read them too.

        Thanks for this great service, Jackie! :-)

  14. I have ARCs of Pigeon English and The Sisters Brothers waiting for me… I should probably hurry up and read them already!

    1. Jackie says:

      theliterarylollipop, Enjoy your Booker reading :-)

  15. JoV says:

    None of the title jump out for me except the book about Bucharest and Ceaucescu’s onslaught. oh dear, I don’t even feel compel to read any of them. :(

    1. Jackie says:

      Jo, Sorry to hear that none of the books are exciting you. Perhaps that will change once you’ve heard a bit more about them? Or perhaps you can feel happy that you haven’t got to add a lot of new books to mount TBR ;-)

  16. stujallen says:

    well shocked I trhink that is what came across on twitter yesterday ,I m only grabbed by a few on the list but am usually on grabbed by few ,the fact it is a less well known list makes me think back to keri hu,lme winning with bone people which in some ways is the least known and oddest winner so this may throw up another book like that ,all the best stu

    1. Jackie says:

      Stu, The Bone People was a fantastic book. I didn’t follow the Booker when it won so have no idea how obscure it was, but I’m very pleased that it won. It a book that could is plucked from onscurity again I’ll be a happy person.

  17. Mystica says:

    My favourites are the Allison Pick one and Derby Day!

    1. Jackie says:

      Mystica, I’m reading Derby Day at the moment and may move onto Far to Go next. I look forward to comparing notes with you. :-)

  18. Jenners says:

    Wow … I’ve not heard of ONE of these books. That is a diverse list. You’re so devoted to these prize lists … I hope that a few of these turn out to be winners!

    By the way, I’m just back from vacation and getting caught up with blogs. I’m reading/skimming most of the posts but just leaving everyone one comment or I’ll never get caught up. Thanks for understanding.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, Don’t worry about catching up – I’m behind with blog reading at the moment so know exactly what it is like. I’m just pleased your trip was useful :-)

  19. Care says:

    I am surprised (and curious why since I really do not pay attn to the hot new titles) that I have heard of the cupboard full of coats one. The deWitt looks interesting and I admit that “unputdownable romp” caught my attention.

    1. Jackie says:

      Care, I hadn’t heard of it, but I guess that if someone had read it they’d have been impressed and so written a rave review that you noticed? I hope you enjoy any Bookers that you try.

  20. For the first time in a few years, I’m not really that keen on reading the Booker longlist (or shortlist) for that matter. It’s extremely strange, for, I really did expect to go out and purchase at least some of the books.

    I will be reading all the reviews though, and will probably read a couple of the books on it (possibly more), so looking forward to your thoughts on the long list. :)

    1. Jackie says:

      anothercookiecrumbles, I think your lack of interest can be explained by the non-literary nature of most of the titles. The judges favour more readable books and so the list is packed with fiction this year. I think it is a shame that there isn’t a variety of both, but as I tend to prefer plot driven books I’m happy.

  21. I was initially a little bit “what?” about the prize, I am now rather excited. I love the fact there are so many books on the list I would never have predicted, I like the fact so many independent and debut novelists are on the list and I also like the fact its a real mix of genres. Hooray, really.

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