Who will be long listed for the 2011 Booker Prize?

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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:

Previous Bookers

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!

Other Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

At Last

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

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

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?

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  1. Mystica says:

    I adore lists like this. For someone who is not quite in touch with the latest books coming out, these are lifelines as it gives me fresh ideas of what is good or what is not! These then go on to my TBR which anyway (dont even ask how) the books do come and get read.

    1. Jackie says:

      Mystica, I’m pleased that you’ve found this list useful. There are a wide variety of books here, so I’m sure that you wont like them all, but I hope that you find a few to enjoy :-)

  2. Sandy says:

    I consider you the expert in such things. I guess I just don’t read the right books because I have no experience with any of these (I was pretty happy with myself that I’ve read Mother’s Milk and Line of Beauty!). Still I watch with interest. While there is no way I will read all the contenders, I try to chase down a Booker now and again.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, Well you’re one up on me as I haven’t read Mother’s Milk yet! I have a feeling it wont be my sort of book, but I do have it here so perhaps I should actually get around to reading it. I hope you find a Booker or two worth chasing this year. :-)

  3. cbjames says:

    I’ve made very little effort to keep up with current literature the last few years, so I’ve no idea who’ll make the list. Will some cheap thriller be included like Child 44. Ouch! That was not very nice of me. That was the year I stopped following the contest, though. I mean really.

    I am going to look for The Afterparty. If it’s your favorite this year, then it’s probably well worth my time.

    1. Jackie says:

      cbjames, I’m afraid I have to disagree with you about CHild44 – I thought it was a fantastic book. For that reason you should probably be cautious about approaching The Afterparty as it isn’t exactly serious fiction – you’d probably be better looking up The History of History.

  4. I am not in touch with new releases and cannot judge on the appropriateness of the books on the list. But I can say that you know what you are doing. As a promoter of African Literature, I also saw no title from there especially since Coetzee (now Australian) has won a few.

    1. Jackie says:

      Nana Fredua-Agyeman, I really hope that I’m wrong and that a few African authors (and those from other countries around the world) make the list. It is sad that the Booker lacks diversity. :-(

  5. Graham says:

    I like your predictions. I have a feeling that the Amitav Ghosh might make the list though.

    1. Jackie says:

      Graham, I almost put him in my list so I wouldn’t be surprised if he did make it. Judging is so subjective that it is impossible to predict who they will choose, but I look forward to the big reveal.

  6. Annabel says:

    Jackie – I have no idea! I don’t think I’ve read any of the serious contenders at all this year, although there are several up in your list that I do want to read… so I’m no help at all really.

    I have been recommended Justin Cartwright’s novel ‘Other People’s money’ by two friends who normally have different tastes but both loved it and hoped it would be longlisted though.

    1. Annabel says:

      Meant to add that ‘The Afterparty’ is the one in your list I really want to read.

      1. Jackie says:

        Annabel, I haven’t heard anything about Other People’s Money, but I’ll keep an eye out for it in my library now. Universal love is a sign worth paying attention to.

        I hope you enjoy The Afterparty if you decide to give it a try.

  7. LizzySiddal says:

    There’s a new Barry Unsworth! And it’s a sequel to Sacred Hunger, my own personal Booker of Bookers (after Wolf Hall). Do you realise how happy/excited I am?

    1. Jackie says:

      Lizzy, I haven’t read Sacred Hunger so I’m unaware of his brilliance. I am working my way through the Bookers so I’ll get to him one day. I hope his new one lives up to your expectations. :-)

  8. A few of those are new to me titles I’m eager to investigate! I find this year particularly difficult to predict as there are so many big names and past nominees with new titles coming out this fall that no one has actually read yet! I’m eagerly awaiting the list Tuesday. I do hope Linda Grant makes it, as I adored We Had It So Good and was quite disappointed when it didn’t make the Orange longlist this year.

    1. Jackie says:

      Carrie, I think this year is hard to predict because there are no real stand-out books – just a lot of very good ones that are impossible to separate. I was surprised that Linda Grant’s book didn’t make the Orange and will be interested to see if it appears tomorrow.

  9. Wendy says:

    There are a lot on your list that I don’t know much about…so I’ll keep an eye on them in the future :)

    I do think Galore has a great chance at being nominated – it was truly one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. I also think that The Tiger’s Wife has a shot (I know you didn’t like it, but I loved it and think it has enough to garner a nod from the judges…we’ll see!).

    Other books I loved which I think might be considered: The Last Brother, by Nathacha Appanah and The Paperbark Shoe, by Goldie Goldbloom

    1. Jackie says:

      Wendy, I can’t see The Tiger’s Wife making the Booker. I didn’t think the writing quality was good enough, but perhaps it just wasn’t my thing?

      The Last Brother is on my wishlist after seeing rave US reviews, but I haven’t heard it mentioned at all in the UK and so I don’t think the publishers over here are pushing it for the prizes. Same goes for The Paperback Shoe, which I only vaguely recognise the title. I’ll be interested to see if any of these books make it.

  10. Beth F says:

    I’m with Sandy — I haven’t read these but am interested to see how your predictions pan out.

    1. Jackie says:

      Beth, I hope that I get at least a few right – I always worry that these prediction posts will make me look silly! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for tomorrow.

  11. It’s lists like these that make me go… do I really read? I haven’t heard of most of the books you’ve put forward as possible contenders, and I really can’t think of any that I have read recently which will make their way to the longlist.

    That said, once the longlist is announced, a few books will find their way to my shelves.

    I hated The Gathering, so I wouldn’t mind if Anne Enright didn’t actually make the list (how selfish, right?) and I’m not a big fan of Ali Smith either. I’ve been meaning to read Lloyd Jones, as I loved Mr. Pip, and the writing in The Book of Fame was amazing; despite me having zero interest in rugby, I enjoyed the book.

    Also might have to buy Afterparty as it sounds good. :)

    1. Jackie says:

      anothercookiecrumbles, Don’t worry about not knowing about latest releases – a few years ago I wouldn’t have had a clue either. I have no hope of being well read in the classics so like actually feeling as though I know something in literature and recent releases is an easy way to do that.

      I hope you enjoy any Bookers that you add to your list tomorrow.

  12. Aths says:

    I haven’t read any of these, but this is a great list. I’m not so sure about The London Train either, but I do hope Annabel makes the cut.

    1. Jackie says:

      Aths, I’ll keep my Annabel fingers crossed for you.

  13. JoV says:

    I hope Hisham Matar makes the cut to shortlist and Hands me down sounds really good as well. I like Ali Smith as well. I found my reading taste is a little out from the Man Booker Prize judges and I would be interested to know who the judges are and predict what they would pick.

    I think you are one of those awesome blogger who is able to make a quick sweep and actually read some of these newly published books to be able to tell which are going to make it to the list, I can’t wait to find out how many of the books in the longlist you have predicted true!

    1. Jackie says:

      Jo, My reading taste is a little out from the Booker judges too! I normally find myself loving the books that are left on the long list – which is why I get more excited about that than the shortlist/winner announcement. I really hope Matar makes it as his book is simply brilliant. I’ve got my fingers crossed.

  14. SUSAN HILL says:

    We meet tomorrow to decide on the longlist. I`ve enjoyed and been intrigued by everyone’s lists and suggestions ! Many surprises in store.

    1. Jackie says:

      Susan Hill, I’m really happy to hear that there will be a lot of surprises – I love it when the Booker introduces me to new books. I look forward to the big reveal tomorrow.

  15. What about Andrew Taylor’s latest?

  16. stujallen says:

    I ve just posted mine got five same as you out of my 13 Jackie ,a interesting list ,maybe more females than my self ,all the best stu


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