Who will make the 2011 Booker Short List?

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I have now attempted to read all the books on this year’s Booker long list and am sad to report that I haven’t had much luck with them. I only found two books I really enjoyed; the rest were a mixture of average reads and ones that irritated me.

Predicting a short list is an almost impossible task so I decided to summarise my thoughts by ordering the long list a) according to my preference and b) in the order I think reflects their relative literary merit (writing quality, re-readability etc).

Bookers ordered to my preference:

(all links go to my thoughts on each book)

  1. A Cupboard Full of Coats by Yvvette Edwards
  2. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
  3. The Last Hundred Days by Patrick McGuinness
  4. Half Blood Blues by Esi Edgyan 
  5. On Canaan’s Side by Sebastian Barry
  6. The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst
  7. Far to Go by Alison Pick
  8. Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch
  9. Derby Day by DJ Taylor
  10. The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers
  11. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
  12. Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman
  13. Snowdrops by A.D. Miller

Bookers in order of literary merit:

  1. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
  2. On Canaan’s Side by Sebastian Barry
  3. Snowdrops by A.D. Miller
  4. Half Blood Blues by Esi Edgyan
  5. Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch
  6. The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst
  7. Derby Day by DJ Taylor
  8. The Last Hundred Days by Patrick McGuinness
  9. A Cupboard Full of Coats by Yvvette Edwards
  10. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
  11. Far to Go by Alison Pick
  12. The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers
  13. Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman

In each case the top six titles (in bold) would make it to their respective short lists. The exception being :

  • The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
  • On Canaan’s Side by Sebastian Barry

where I think the books are too similar for both to be put through to the short list together. I think The Sense of an Ending is the slightly stronger book and so I predict it will go through at the expense of On Canaan’s Side. I’m hoping that the books are selected on literary merit and so therefore predict that the Booker short list revealed on 6th September will be:

 

The Stranger's ChildSnowdropsDerby Day

Half Blood Blues: From Berlin to Paris. Two Friends. One BetrayalThe Sense of an EndingJamrach's Menagerie

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


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20 Comments

  1. Stujallen says:

    We were talking shortlists last night on twitter most people liked sister brothers and the barnes I ve only read three all of them good but out them I liked hollinghurst a thoughtful book can’t wait see what makes cut hopefully the better books in list will make the cut alm the best stu

    1. Jackie says:

      Stu, I’m sorry I missed your short list discussion on twitter last night – I haven’t been on there for a few days. Hopefully there’ll be a few more Booker discussions before the announcement.

  2. John Self says:

    I think this is a very good suggestion for the shortlist, but I don’t think Hollinghurst will be there. It has been a very divisive book among people I know who have read it (including me!), and I am going to presume the judges are similarly split. However I don’t have any good ideas about what else might be on there in its place.

    1. Jackie says:

      John, It is always hard to know whether these marmite books will make it onto the list. I guess it is down to the personalities of the judges and whether those who love it are more vocal than those who hate it. I wouldn’t be surprised either way.

  3. Beth F says:

    I have no clue what will make it. I don’t pay enough attention (okay, no attention whatsoever) to awards. But it’s always fun to see your predictions.

    1. Jackie says:

      Beth, Let’s hope I get a few right and don’t look too silly tomorrow.

  4. Karen says:

    I always love reading your predictions for these sorts of awards Jackie – I never have any idea about what will be selected!! I have read three from the long list so far and have loved them all (Derby Day, The Sense of an Ending and The Stranger’s Child) so I would love to see them all make it!

    1. Jackie says:

      Karen, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you. :-)

  5. Mystica says:

    I do not make guesses at all on this but do love to follow the blogs with their preferences and ideas. It makes for such interesting ideas and suggestions always being thrown up by the blogs.

    1. Jackie says:

      Mystica, Yes – everyone has a different idea about who should make the cut. I look forward to finding out who’s right.

  6. mee says:

    As always it’s nice to see your Booker updates and predictions Jackie! Somehow none of the books appeals to me this year. Maybe a bit later on.

    1. Jackie says:

      mee, I’m not surprised that none appeal to you – I think that there are a lot of better books out there to enjoy.

  7. Maxine says:

    Your post reminds me of Giles Coren’s column in Saturday’s Times (unfortunately not only is the online version paid-for, but you can’t even link to an individual article). The piece was basically to say he liked the Julian Barnes book the best (so agreeing with you) but also to point out that very good books don’t win the Booker any more, since they stopped getting academics to judge it and bought in “celebrities” 20 years ago. The piece was introduced by a blurb to an oldish book stating “too good to win the Booker” which Coren says was thought to be a joke at the time but actually isn’t!

    1. Jackie says:

      Maxine, I wish I could read that article as it sounds really interesting. I do think it would be better if academics judged the Booker prize as it really should be given to the books that will be studied in the future – not the ones that are the most enjoyable to read. Nothing should be too good to win the Booker. :-(

  8. Maxine says:

    PS I have read Snowdrops and really ….not only is it not very good but it isn’t even half-way decent as a crime plot. But, it is written by a well-connected person in the media world….

    1. Jackie says:

      Maxine, I didn’t like Snowdrops and agree it isn’t a good crime novel, but I do see the depth in it and I think it would get better with each re-read. I think it will make the short list today.

  9. JoV says:

    I take my hats off for you Jackie to be able to read enough to make this kind of judgement and you are always so close to predicting most of them. I have no clue to any of them but I hope your predictions came true! :D

  10. Mrs.B says:

    I had hoped to read more from the longlist but I’ve only read two of them and abandoned quite a few. I’m surprised Snowdrops made your list. I really enjoyed that one! My predictions are here.

  11. 4 out of 6 isn’t bad, Jackie!!

  12. Luci says:

    4 out of 6 on the literary merit, and two of your personal preferred ones. A Cupboard Full of Coats is my favourite of the 6 I’ve read, too – but I’m quite pleased to see Half Blood Blues and The Sense of an Ending there.

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