Booker Prize Other

The 2012 Booker Prize Longlist

The 2012 Booker Prize longlist has just been announced as:

  • The Yips by Nicola Barker
  • The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman
  • Philida by André Brink
  • The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng
  • Skios by Michael Frayn
  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
  • Swimming Home by Deborah Levy
  • Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
  • The Lighthouse by Alison Moore
  • Umbrella by Will Self
  • Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil
  • Communion Town by Sam Thompson

The Lighthouse (Salt Modern Fiction)Swimming HomeCommunion Town

Part of me is really happy to see several books that are new to me (The Lighthouse, Communion Town and Swimming Home) and another part is disappointed to see so many light, comic reads.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold FrySkios

I have read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Skios and whilst both were entertaining, neither stood out as anything special. I didn’t get around to reviewing either as I didn’t have much to say about them. I don’t think that is a good sign for a Booker longlistee.


Narcopolis was one of the only books that I correctly predicted would be on the longlist. I started reading it last week and was immediately impressed by the writing quality. Unfortunately I went on to abandon it because the characters didn’t engage me, but I think it is worthy of its place on the longlist and I can see it being enjoyed by people who like meandering, atmospheric books.

Bring up the BodiesThe Yips

It isn’t a surprise to see these two on the longlist. I haven’t enjoyed books written by Nicola Barker or Hilary Mantel in the past and I’ve heard these are similar in style to their previous work,  so am not planning to try either of these at the moment.


André Brink is an author I have heard many positive things about. He has been shortlisted for the Booker prize twice before and this book sounds like one I’ll really enjoy.

The Garden of Evening Mists

Tan Twan Eng’s debut novel, The Gift of Rain, was longlisted for the Booker prize and this new one has received a lot of praise in the blogosphere. I’m looking forward to giving it a try.

The Teleportation Accident

Ned Beauman has a very bizarre writing style. I abandoned his debut novel because it was too dark and weird for me, but his second is supposed to be a lot more comic (notice that word again!) and so I’m willing to give him another try. I’ll let you know what I think soon!


I’m not surprised to see Will Self on the list. He is one of those authors that I’ve wanted to try for a while, but never done so. I’m looking forward to finally finding out what his writing style is like.

I’m looking forward to trying many of the books on the longlist and hope they are of a high enough literary standard to justify their position.

What do you think of the longlist?

Have you read any of these books?

Which ones do you think I’ll enjoy?

45 replies on “The 2012 Booker Prize Longlist”

I’ve read two of the long listers and must rave about them — The Garden of Evening Mists and Narcopolis. Other than those two, and the Mantel, the rest are totally new to me — haven’t even heard of them! :/ I’m kind of ashamed of myself for that!

The Garden of Evening Mists is quiet, and atmospheric, so interesting — a very unique historical fiction angle for me — I don’t read a ton set in that part of the world. The writing is solid too — a little poetic, very evocative, bittersweet.

Audra, Thanks for warning me that it is quiet. I often struggle with quiet books so I’ll ensure I only read it when I’m at my most tolerant.

I’ve read Bring Up the Bodies, which is good, but not as good as Wolf Hall. I’ve wondered whether to read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, but flipping through it in a bookshop it didn’t inspire me to buy or read it. I’ll probably borrow it from the library eventually. I don’t know the others, but the Will Self book looks interesting and like you I’ve never read anything by him.

The list is not doing much for me.

Margaret, I’m quite ambivalent about the list. None of the blurbs are exciting me, but I’ll keep an open mind and see how I feel after trying them. I’m not inspired enough to run out and buy any of them, but will see what I can pick up at the library too.

The only one I’ve read is Harold Fry, which I really enjoyed. I met Sam Thompson at the Harper do before bumping into you, and his book sounded really interesting, so I hope it does well from it (it’s a debut). I really like Nicola Barker, she really captures our times for me even in her not so good ones, so I shall look forward to reading The Yips. Skios sounds fun, so I’d happily read that anyway, even if it isn’t real Booker material.

Annabel, It is lovely that you’ve met Sam Thompson – I hadn’t heard of him. I do love it when debuts appear on the Booker list and look forward to trying it.

I suspect you’ll love Skios – enjoy!

I haven’t read any of these, and many of the authors are new-to-me. I’m looking forward to investigating all of them. I’m most excited for Philida, which will take forever to get to me. In the meantime, Narcopolis, Skios, and Harold Fry will be my first reads.

nomadreader, Sounds like you will be mirroring my Booker reading order. I look forward to comparing notes with you and hope the books make it to the US soon.

Not only have I not read any of them, I’ve only heard of about a third of them. I’ll no doubt read Hilary Mantel eventually. Her book aside, there don’t appear to have been many high profile Booker-style books around this year. The books everyone seems to be talking about are this year’s paperbacks like Pure and The Song of Achilles, plus a certain bestseller that I don’t wish to mention.

David, I’m afraid I’m going to disagree with you. I think there have been lots of high profile Booker books this year and a lot of outstanding books that have also missed out. It is the best year for Booker quality books I’ve seen for ages. How about these: NW by Zadie Smith, The Deadman’s Pedal by Alan Warner, No Time Like the Present by Nadine Gordimer, The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey, Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears, Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan, Mountains of the Moon by I J Kay, The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman, All is Song by Samantha Harvey, How It All Began by Penelope Lively, Pure by Timothy Mo, Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding, The Forrests by Emily Perkins, Merivel by Rose Tremain, The Colour of Milk by Nell Leyshon, The Light of Amsterdam by David Park, A Division of the Light by Christopher Burns, The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber…to name a few! People always talk about paperbacks more than those out in hardcover, but next year everyone will be talking about these.

That’s quite alright, Jackie. That illustrious publication The Guardian also said it has been a crowded literary year. Perhaps I have just been too busy looking for a new job (and holding down a temporary one) to notice. Many of the authors you mention are known to me, but I’ve not heard of many of those titles. There was a lot of fuss around McEwan when “Solar” came out, but this is the first I have heard about “Sweet Tooth”. I wonder if it is just books I’ve lost track of? I did hear a rumour that there was a major global sporting even starting in London tomorrow. Is that something I should know about? (Haha.)

David, Sweet Tooth hasn’t been released yet so that explains why it hasn’t been mentioned much. I know very little about it so have no idea if it is worthy of longlisting. I guess we’ll all find out in September!

Good luck with the job hunting and enjoy the Olympics!

It seems that the jury decided to go head into a different direction this year. I’ve not heard of most of these authors and quite looking forward to reading any of their books. Sorry to hear that Narcopolis did not engage you much (it is something I recognise from my read). You still have seven books to read, which one will be next?

Chinoiseries, I’ve got The Teleportation Accident here so will try that next and then see which ones are available in the library – I suspect it will be the Eng and possible the Brink.

I don’t really know what to make of the list. It seems a vintage year hasn’t produced a vintage longlist. Looking at your reply to David Nolan’s comment I think it’s a pity that such good quality writing will be highlighted next year by Richard & Judy etc instead of this year by the Booker prize. Still, it’s given me another 12 books that I’ll read one day (surely they could have agreed on a 13th!). I’ve got Harold Fry to read and will look out for the others. Can Mantel really win it with a sequel to a previous winner – I was half expecting her to be left out with such strong competition? Anyway, I look forward to seeing your shortlist prediction in September, enjoy!

Liz, I really hope that all those fantastic books find another way to be highlighted. It is worrying that so many could fade into obscurity. I hope that Mantel doesn’t win again and that one of the new-to-me books is outstanding. I’d also love to know what happened with that 13th book!

Very interesting list – like many others have mentioned, I haven’t heard of most of these! The only one I’ve read is Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies (which I loved!). Unfortunately there’s only 2 or 3 others from the longlist that have been published here in the U.S. so far (from what I can tell). So I will be starting with the Harold Fry and Skios – I’m looking forward to them but on first glance at the blurbs they do seem a bit “light” for a Booker. Oh well, I guess anything that gets people talking about books and reading more books is a good thing.

Amy, Part of me likes anything that gets people to talk about books, another part of me gets annoyed that a literature prize keeps highlighting good fiction, instead of good literature. Hopefully the right book will win in the end.

I have to say that on first glance the longlist doesn’t really inspire me. I’ve read the descriptions of the books on the Booker Prize website and apart from Bring Up The Bodies which I have already read (and loved) and The Garden of Evening Mists none of the books are jumping out at me on to my TBR pile. I might wait for the short list and see what others are saying as they read through the longlist…

Karen, I love the way that the Booker prize often introduces me to excellent books that I’d never normally pick up because the blurb doesn’t inspire me. Hopefully the same will happen this year. Fingers crossed the books are more exciting than the blurbs!

I did enjoy Harold Fry (apart from a little quibble about Yorkshire geography!) but I am surprised to see it on the long list as it didn’t strike me as a Booker book. Other than that I haven’t read any of them and I can’t say that any of the titles are shouting ‘read me’ apart from Bring Up the Bodies and I will have to finish Wolf Hall before I start that.
Might try the Nicola Barker, if only because I grew up in Luton many moons ago and it doesn’t feature in that many books but otherwise I don’t think I will rush out to read any of them unless they cross my path at the library.

I would have liked to have seen The Painter of Silence on the long list as I was very impressed with it but then it is very rare that I am on the same wavelength as Booker judges

Liz, I didn’t notice the dodgy Yorkshire geography – my Yorkshire born husband will be most upset! I’m glad I’m not the only one surprised to see Harold on the Booker list – it is far more deserving of the Costa prize.

I think The Painter of Silence should have made the cut too. One of these days the Booker judges will be on our wavelength. 🙂

I’ve read two so far. I loved ‘Bring up the Bodies’ but I wasn’t especially wowed by ‘The Garden of Evening Mists’. I found it very readable and enjoyable but, a bit like Simon Mawer’s book, I felt it only really operated on one level, plus it was yet another book this year featuring a character with memory problems! I don’t think Tan ever convinced me that his narrator was female (a bit like with Anne Tyler’s ‘The Beginner’s Goodbye’ this year where I had to keep reminding myself that the 60 year old woman narrator I had in my head was actually meant to be a 35 year old man) and the shift from character study to adventure novel right at the end didn’t work for me.

Of the others I have three (Frayn, Joyce, Levy) and have ordered two more (Thayil, Thompson). ‘The Lighthouse’ and ‘Philida’, neither of which had I heard of, both sound very interesting and I’m looking forward to those. I read the first chapter of ‘Harold Fry’ last night but I don’t think I was in the right mood for it, having just read two other fairly light, very English books – this just seemed like more of the same. I will read it soon though.

I’ll need to read a lot more of the longlist before I can form an opinion of it. It certainly looks more interesting than last year, but in a year that has so far provided a number of books that I think could easily rival many a recent Booker winner, some of the inclusions (and absences) on this list look… surprising. For me the biggest surprise is the complete lack of any Antipodean books. I know I’ve been reading more Australian fiction than I usually would this year, but there have been some absolutely cracking Aussie (and NZ) novels this year and I did expect to see at least a couple. Oh well.

Oh, and I read the first page of ‘The Yips’ on Amazon last night and I couldn’t get past the phrase “trademark Yorkshire twinkle”. Eh?

David, Part of me is pleased to hear that you enjoyed Evening Mists, but another part is disapointed to hear that it lacks the depth I like to see in a Booker nominee. I hope I am at least entertained by it and not annoyed by the central character.

Having read Harold Fry I suspect you will never be in the right mood for it. It is very light and I found it overly sentimental. I’ll be interested to hear if you enjoy it at all.

On a positive note, I agree that it is far better than last year’s longlist – but that isn’t hard! Such a shame that so many fantastic books (especially the Australian ones) were overlooked.

Enjoy your Booker reading!

Not sure what to think of lists these days. I’m not surprise about Hilary Mantel or Tan Twan WEng but thene there are so mayn others I wouldn’t pick when I saw them in a book shop. I might be wrong but a lot of it just seesm so meaningless.

cbjames, It is great to hear that you enjoyed Brink’s earlier book. I think I own it and may get to it after I’ve tried his latest one. (or I may want to leave it a while – depends on how much I love his writing style!)

I too am pretty disappointed to see farce on the list. I find it such a tiresome and dated genre (but then I hate pantomime too).

Five of them I already wanted to read (Levy, Moore, Self, Thayil, Thompson). Five I was already not interested in reading (Barker, Frayn, Joyce, Brink, Mantel–perhaps I shouldn’t admit the latter two) based on reviews (Frayn, Joyce) and previous experience (the rest). I haven’t come across Beauman or Eng before, so they’ll be something new to try. Maybe I’ll give Barker, Brink and Martel a second chance now.

I’ll look forward to reading your thoughts.

JC, I quite like watching pantomine and farce at the theatre, but it isn’t something I really enjoy reading. Skios is well done for its genre, but I don’t think it has the depth required for a Booker novel. Enjoy your Booker reading!

I didn’t expect The Garden of Mist to be longlisted, although Tan’s last book The Gift of Rain is also longlisted. Other longlists are new to me. I look forward to read this. Thanks for letting me know!

It seems an unusual longlist – some high-profile books missed out. I’m not surprised to see Bringing up the Bodies and Umbrella, but I haven’t even heard of quite a few of the others. I’m hoping the list will introduce me to some wonderful contemporary authors, so I will have to get reading and see what they are like!

Gemma, A lot of high profile books have been missed off and there are also a lot of amazing low-profile ones that I’m disappointed to see missing. I hope there are a few gems on there to compensate for that.

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