Who Will be Longlisted for the 2012 Booker Prize?

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2012 has been an amazing year for fiction. Last year I struggled to find 13 books good enough to justify a place on a Booker longlist, but this year I’m overwhelmed by the quality. I’ve read at least 20 books that deserve longlisting and have heard about many others from fellow book lovers. Whittling down the list to just 13 is an almost impossible task and I don’t even have anyone to argue with!

Historical Fiction

It is a good year for historical fiction and as the 2012 Man Booker judges seem to have a strong connection to the genre I suspect that there will be a few on the list.

The Marlowe Papers

I think that The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber is most deserving of a place. Written in verse, it is so different from anything else published recently and shows a real literary talent.

Merivel: A Man of His Time

Rose Tremain was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1989 for Restoration. The sequel, Merivel, is published in September. I’m lucky enough to have a proof copy and although I haven’t finished reading it yet I can see it shares its engaging, atmospheric style. So far it is just as good as Restoration and therefore deserves longlisting.

The Colour of Milk

The Colour of Milk by Nell Leyshon has a unique voice and should stand out from the crowd. I’d love to see it longlisted, and am keeping my fingers crossed that it is long enough to qualify.

The Street Sweeper

My personal favourite is The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman. It raises important questions about historical fiction and how easily important events are forgotten. I’d love to see its profile raised and so am rooting for it in all literary prizes this year.

Character Studies

I often struggle with the slower pace of character studies and therefore have to rely on the opinion of others to sort the wheat from the chaff.

The Forrests

The Forrests by Emily Perkins seems to be standing head and shoulders above everything else this year. A wide range of knowledgeable people seem to think that this even has a chance of winning. Who am I to disagree?

Painter of Silence

In being shortlisted for the Orange Prize Painter of Silence has already shown its prize winning potential. This quiet story is widely loved and I’d be surprised if it didn’t make it onto the Booker longlist.

Previous Booker Winners/Nominees

Bring up the Bodies

I wasn’t a fan of Wolf Hall, but those who were are claiming that the sequel, Bring up the Bodies, is even better. I guess that means it should walk onto the longlist without question.

All is Song

I was a big fan of The Wilderness, but Samantha Harvey has stepped up her game with All is Song. The writing quality is even better and the emotions come alive on the page. Unfortunately it crossed over the line and became a bit too literary for my taste, but that is what the Booker is all about! If you are willing to put the effort into peeling back the literary layers then you will be rewarded with a fabulous book.

How It All Began

How It All Began is littered with quotable sentences. It is a bit too quiet and domestic for my taste, but I can see the quality shining through. The many references to literature will mean it has an added appeal that I’m sure those Booker judges will admire.


Timothy Mo was shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times in the 1980s, but Pure is his first book for 10 years. The complexity of the prose put me off, but his fans are raving about this one and so I think it may well be fourth time lucky for him.

Everything Else

The Light of Amsterdam

The Light of Amsterdam has received rave reviews from almost everyone who has read it. It has been described as “introspective” and so I’ve been avoiding it so far, but if it makes the longlist I’ll give it a try. I’m prepared to be surprised!


I have a passion for books set in India and so was drawn towards Narcopolis. The subject matter is a bit bleak, but the writing is amazing. It has the benefit of being different from everything else on my longlist.

A Division of the Light

A Division of the Light isn’t my usual sort of book, but a rare endorsement from Kazuo Ishiguro persuaded me to give it a try. I was instantly impressed by the vivid descriptions and the emotional tension that runs through it. It is very deserving of a longlist position.

The Ones I Didn’t Select

Narrowing down my selection to just 13 titles was very hard, especially since many of the contenders aren’t even published yet. I’ve had to rely on feedback from those in the industry who’ve read copies and my own instincts, but as every judging panel is individual it is almost impossible to predict which ones they’ll choose.

Here are some of the other books that I wouldn’t be surprised to see on the Booker longlist:

Mountains of the Moon by I J Kay, NW by Zadie Smith, The Yips by Nicola Barker, 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

My Prediction for the 2012 Booker Longlist:

  1. The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman
  2. Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
  3. All is Song by Samantha Harvey
  4. How It All Began by Penelope Lively
  5. Pure by Timothy Mo
  6. Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding
  7. The Forrests by Emily Perkins
  8. Merivel by Rose Tremain
  9. Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil
  10. The Colour of Milk by Nell Leyshon
  11. The Light of Amsterdam by David Park
  12. A Division of the Light by Christopher Burns
  13. The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber


The Booker longlist is revealed on 25th July. I’m hoping that the judges will introduce me to some fabulous new fiction.

Who do you think will be longlisted for the 2012 Booker Prize? 





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  1. Violet says:

    I’ve only read Painter of Silence, but totally loved it, so I hope it gets picked.

    1. Jackie says:

      Violet, I think it stands a very good chance. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!

  2. Chinoiseries says:

    So many new books to add to my TBR list, I’m getting quite excited now at the prospect of the Man Booker Longlist announcement!
    I only read Narcopolis so far, it’s like you said, bleak but very well written.

    1. Jackie says:

      Chinoiseries, Not long to wait now! I actually enjoy the pre-Booker discussion more than the actual announcement – wish we could have these discussions about Booker worthy books for far longer :-)

  3. Hmmm. Lots of food for thought there! I agree with your ‘wouldn’t surprise me if’ mentions but I don’t know too many of the others you picked out so I’ve just added more to my wishlist. The Marlowe Papers sounds very intriguing indeed.

    1. Jackie says:

      Alex, I’m pleased I was able to introduce you to some new titles! I hope that the Booker judges choose a few of the lesser known authors and can introduce me to some new authors too. Enjoy your Booker reading!

  4. David says:

    I’m always way off with my longlist predictions, and with quite a few likely contenders still to be released (Zadie Smith, Ian McEwan, Rose Tremain, James Meek, Lawrence Norfolk, James Kelman, Pat Barker) it is even harder to guess. But at the moment these are the eligible novels I’ve loved most this year, and I’m hoping at least a couple of them make the longlist:

    ‘The Street Sweeper’ by Elliot Perlman
    ‘The Deadman’s Pedal’ by Alan Warner
    ‘The Forrests’ by Emily Perkins
    ‘The Coward’s Tale’ by Vanessa Gebbie
    ‘Bring Up the Bodies’ by Hilary Mantel
    ‘Scenes from Early Life’ by Philip Hensher
    ‘Alone in the Classroom’ by Elizabeth Hay

    Beyond that, just from the 51 eligible novels I’ve read, I could easily think of another ten or so that I think are strong enough to be real contenders.

    Oh, and I’m going to try ‘Narcopolis’ – even though I love Indian books I’d been put off by the subject matter but given you think it is good enough for the longlist, I reckon it must be worth a look.

    1. Jackie says:

      David, It is great to see that The Street Sweeper is top of your list! If I was on the Booker judging panel that is the only book I’d be backing passionately.

      Your other selections are all great too. I think we’d have an easy time if we were judging together – no arguments at all!

      1. David says:

        ‘The Street Sweeper’ is narrowly at the top of my list with ‘The Deadman’s Pedal’ a very close second. I’d never read Alan Warner before (didn’t fancy his drink- and sex-fuelled earlier books) but I absolutely loved this. I have a fondness for ‘coming-of-age’ novels anyway, but this one is so rich and layered and beautifully written, and – even better – it’s supposedly the first of a trilogy.

        1. Jackie says:

          David, I haven’t read The Deadman’s Pedal as I didn’t enjoy either of his previous books and am not normally a fan of coming-of-age stories. I have a copy here so I’ll give it a try, but I will be surprised if I enjoy it. I’m happy for it to be longlisted though – I know he has a very high standard of writing.

  5. Lizzy Siddal says:

    Hats off to you, Jackie. How do you keep yourself so up-to-date?

    Admittedly I’ve been a bit distracted by foreign lit this year and haven’t read many – if any – eligible titles so far. But I have a few in the TBR which wouldn’t surprise me with an appearance on the list headed by:

    Bring up The Bodies – Hilary Mantel

    and followed by:

    Toby’s Room – Pat Barker
    Archipelago – Monique Roffey
    The Garden of Evening Mists – Tan Twan Eng

    I would love Lynn Shepherd’s Tom All-Alones to make an appearance but I suspect it’s far too entertaining for the Booker!

    1. Jackie says:

      How do you keep yourself so up-to-date?
      I don’t read many old books! I also spend time talking to publishers about which books they hope will make the prize shortlists – this gives an extra insight into what might have actually been submitted and allows me to push those up the TBR pile so I can compare them with each other and make up my own mind.

      Your 3 suggestions are quite likely – in fact I’d quite like the added diversity they’d bring to the list. I look forward to seeing what the judges select next week.

  6. Sandy says:

    I think you are the authority on this topic…I always defer to your judgement. I still want to read the Perlman.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, I really hope that you decide to read the Perlman – I am sure that you’ll love it.

  7. Great roundup! I’ve read dismally few of these, but I’m always interested to see what will make the longlist.

    1. Jackie says:

      Andi, I don’t think that many people will have read them – I just make a concious effort to do so. Hopefully you’ll find some good reads on the longlist next week.

  8. stujallen says:

    just posted mine we have four the same Jackie be interesting to see what make the list as they’ll probably be the main ones from the uk and commonwealth I ll read this year ,all the best stu

    1. Jackie says:

      Stu, Interesting list! Everyone seems to think Merivel and Bring up the Bodies will make it – it is a good sign they will!

  9. Tony says:

    Go ‘The Street Sweeper’!

    And go away ‘All That I Am’ :(

    1. Jackie says:

      Tony, At least this is one prize where All That I Am can’t beat The Street Sweeper – All That I Am was published in the last Booker year. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for The Street Sweeper.

  10. Lindsay says:

    Great to read your predictions Jackie. I am another one who would absolutely love to see The Street Sweeper there. A fabulous book. I have got Merivel to be read too. I also really liked The Colour of Milk and wonder if that will be there. I quite liked Painter of Silence but it wasn’t a favourite.

    1. Jackie says:

      Lindsay, It is wonderful to see so much love for The Street Sweeper! I really hope that our wishes come true.

  11. kimbofo says:

    Interesting list, Jackie. I’ve been reading more translated fiction and back catalogue stuff this year so am not really up to date with the books likely to make this year’s list. I do, however, think John Banville’s Ancient Light, which is on the top of my TBR, will be on it. Ditto for Peter Carey and Elliot Perlman. And I’d love to see Nell Leyshon’s book on it! But, as I wrote on Stu’s blog, I think there’ll be a few surprise names on the list, including debut authors, which we’ve never heard of — that’s usually the way. And which is why this guessing game is always interesting.

    1. Jackie says:

      kimbofo, I’m not sure the Carey is good enough to make the longlist this year. It is up against such strong competition and I didn’t think it was in the same leaugue as some of his others. I thought it had several unnecessary sections and lacked any real impact. It will be interesting to see if the judges agree with me. Either way I do hope they highlight some fantastic debut authors that are new to us.

      1. kimbofo says:

        Oh, interesting… I haven’t read the Carey but the way the panel on BBC The Review show were talking a couple of months back it sounded like a real contender. They all thought it should win it!!! :-)

        I actually thought of another novelist that will surely attract some Booker attention this year: James Kelman. His new novel is out next month.

  12. JoV says:

    I am hopeless in predicting any longlist, I’ll leave it to the expert (you!). But your list looks great with many familiar Man Booker Past Prize winners on the run.

    I’ll cross my fingers that this year will be better than the last and that a few books will draw my attnetion.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jo, Yes. I’m trying to forget about last year! Let’s hope they know quality when they see it this time around.

  13. Amy C says:

    Great list! I love the debate about who will make the Booker long list, but I am usually far behind. I’m just hoping when they announce the long list that there will be some books on it that have already been released here in the States. Usually there are some who are not even released here in the U.S. until after the SHORT list has been announced! (and I get way too impatient)

    1. Jackie says:

      Amy, Many of the books probably wont even be available in the UK :-( Hopefully there will be quite a few that you’ll be able to get your hands on soon. Let’s hope they are enjoyable reads.

  14. Jenners says:

    How marvelous to have so many choices!!!

  15. kimbofo says:

    Can I add two more suggestions: Kim Scott’s Deadman Dance and Claire Kilroy’s The Devil I Know….?

    1. Jackie says:

      Kim, I almost added Deadman’s Dance to this list, but then I was unsure about its publication date. I was sure it was published in April, but Amazon says it hasn’t been released yet. I’m a bit confused about that one, but agree it could well end up on the list if eligible.

      The Devil I Know is also a good suggestion. I have a copy here and it has some great quotes on the cover. I may give it a try later.

      1. kimbofo says:

        I think Deadman’s Dance was supposed to be published in April but it has been delayed until October…

        And I hope you read the Kilroy — I was disappointed with her last novel (All Names Have Been Changed) but LOVED Tenderwire, which is a fast-paced literary thriller.

  16. nomadreader says:

    I am eagerly awaiting the list on Wednesday and enjoyed seeing your predictions. So many of the titles I’m excited about aren’t out in the U.S., so I think it will be a hard year to read all of the longlist. I was hoping How It All Began would make the Orange longlist so I could have a sense of urgency to read it, and I still haven’t made time for it.

    1. Jackie says:

      nomadreader, I’m surprised that How it All Began didn’t make the Orange longlist – it is far better than a lot of the ones that made it. Hopefully the Booker judges will include it.

  17. I don’t have any predictions, but if the 12 you’ve chosen actually make the LL, this might be the first year in a long time in which the LL got me excited enough to want to read them all. Sign me up! :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Buried In Print, You’re welcome to read my list anyway ;-) I can vouch for their quality and don’t think you’ll be disappointed by them. Let’s hope the real list is just as exciting.


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