Who will be longlisted for the 2013 Booker Prize?

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The 2013 Booker longlist will be announced on the 23rd July. Compiling my longlist prediction has been particularly difficult this year. Not because there aren’t good books to choose from, but because the usual stand-out contenders aren’t around. I found about 30 books that felt equally likely to be longlisted. All had their merits, but because none seemed especially outstanding I don’t envy the judges who have to decide which ones to put through.

After much research I predict that these books will make up the “Booker Dozen” when it is announced on the 23rd July:

Americanah

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has noticeably matured as a writer in this novel. I missed the raw emotional power of her first novels, but suspect Americanah will tick all the boxes those judges are looking for.

The Hired Man

The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna

The Memory of Love was a very accomplished piece of writing. It didn’t have enough plot for me, but her fans claim this book is even better. If that is the case then this book should walk straight onto the longlist.

Ghana Must Go

Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi

Ghana Must Go is one of the most talked about debuts of the year. Selasi has the support of Salman Rushdie and Toni Morrison and her writing reminded me of Rushdie’s. The wordy writing style wasn’t for me, but I’d be surprised if this didn’t make the longlist.

 

Burial Rites

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Burial Rites isn’t published until August, but the advance praise for this book is outstanding. An Australian author who writes about Icelandic historical fiction is a first for me, but I’m looking forward to trying it.

Secrecy

Secrecy by Rupert Thomson

I enjoyed Secrecy and thought it had a wonderful atmosphere and depth. Thomson deserves to be more well known and I think this is his opportunity.


The Woman Upstairs

The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud

This novel has been dividing opinion (as all good books do!) It is extremely provocative and it is hard to know whether or not the judges will tolerate the swearing, but it would be nice to see something so different on the longlist.

419

419 by Will Ferguson

419 has already won the Giller Prize, Canada’s equivalent of the Booker. The writing is excellent and I think it has a strong chance of being put through.

All the Birds, Singing

All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

Evie Wyld was included on Granta’s 2013 list of Best Young Novelists. Everyone was surprised when her debut novelAfter the Fire, A Still Small Voice, wasn’t longlisted for the Booker Prize, but I think her time has now come.

Clever Girl

Clever Girl by Tessa Hadley

I wasn’t a fan of The London Train, but people who enjoy character driven novels are raving about Clever Girl.

Wreaking

Wreaking by James Scudamore

I loved Heliopolis and Wreaking promises to be even more impressive. It hasn’t been released yet, but I’ve seen some very positive comments on Twitter.

Fallen Land

Fallen Land by Patrick Flanery

I recently read Absolution and was very impressed. Apparently Fallen Land is even more accomplished and as Absolution deserved a Booker longlisting I think that means Fallen Land should be a certainty.

Harvest

Harvest by Jim Crace

Jim Crace was shortlisted for the Booker prize in 1997. His new book, Harvest, is said to be a return to his best and I’m looking forward to trying it.

The Childhood of Jesus

The Childhood of Jesus by JM Coetzee

Coetzee is the only real literary heavyweight around this year. This slim book has been dividing opinion, but I think that is because it is more complex than his other books. I think the judges will enjoy re-reading this one.

The Secret Knowledge (Dedalus Original Fiction in Paperback)

The Secret Knowledge by Andrew Crumey

Finally, my wild-card prediction. I haven’t read this and couldn’t find any reviews online (it hasn’t been published yet) but having read one of Crumey’s books earlier this year I was very impressed by the quality of his writing. If this book is up to his usual standard then I think the judges will be impressed by his philosophical insight and be drawn to the fact this is so different from everything else submitted (I’m guessing here). Either way, I’d love to see him on this list.

Thoughts on my Longlist

After looking at my list as a whole I realise it has a strong African bias. I’d be happy to see the judges correct this by finding some gems that I’m yet to come across. I’m really hoping that the longlist has some wonderful surprises, especially if they involve different genres and authors from a wider range of countries.

What do you think of my selection?

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


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37 Comments

  1. David says:

    An interesting list, Jackie, and I suspect a few of those will make the real longlist. I’ve read seven of your picks and all were very good (though I admired Messud’s more than enjoyed it).
    And while I’ve read neither yet, Daisy Hildyard’s ‘Hunters in the Snow’ and Kim Scott’s ‘That Deadman Dance’ sound suitably Booker-ish.
    I’ve become somewhat disillusioned with the Booker over the past few years and haven’t even made an attempt to read the whole longlist for the past two. This year hasn’t (so far) provided me with any reads I’m desperate to see longlisted either.

    Actually this year I’m really looking forward to the big American prizes at the end of the year as there seem to be a few really excellent US titles out (‘The Son’, ‘All That Is’, ‘Mary Coin’, the fabulous ‘Eleven Days’ to name but a few) which should make it very interesting.

    1. Jackie says:

      David, I haven’t heard of ‘Hunters in the Snow’ but was so excited about ‘That Deadman Dance’ that I ordered a copy from New Zealand (it was cheaper than Australia!) unfortunately I didn’t enjoy it at all and abandoned it quite early on. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it on the list, but I wonder if it made more of an impression in Australia because of its content and it won’t have the same impact on British readers?

      I also agree about US fiction being more appealing at the moment. There were so many books I looked at for this list, only to discover they were written by American authors. It really is a good year for US fiction.

  2. Carp says:

    I’ve read ten on your list and agree with you on several. Definitely ‘Americanah’, ‘The Hired Man’, ‘Harvest’, and ‘All the Birds, Singing”. I think they all have a good chance at the longlist and were among my favorites of the year. I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy of ‘Burial Rites’ and I believe it has a good shot as well. And, like you, I didn’t like ‘Ghana Must Go’: the style was, as you said, too wordy for my taste, but if she can edit herself in the future, I think she has huge potential. I also could not get through ‘That Deadman Dance’ and I tried repeatedly. I am surprised by no ‘Life After Life’ by Kate Atkinson on your list. I know it might feel like literary tricks to some, but I thought it was clever and there were sections that were absolutely brilliant.

    1. Jackie says:

      Carp, I wouldn’t be surprised to see ‘Life After Life’ on the list, but I don’t think it is literary enough for the Booker. I know a lot of people love it, but I don’t think the writing is of a good enough quality. I could be wrong – plenty of lesser books have appeared on the longlist before!

  3. stujallen says:

    great list Jackie ,I would find it hard to choose this year as I ve made a real effort to avoid books in english this year to build up more translations ,of ones I m aware you’ve mentioned most of them maybe a quetion of travel ? ,all the best stu

    1. Jackie says:

      Stu, Yes, a lot of people are mentioning Question of Travel 0 sounds like I need to get hold of a copy and read it :-)

  4. Shan says:

    I’m hoping to see Americanah and Ghana Must Go on the list, two of my favourites of the year. I read Harvest because I thought it would have the potential to be on the list, and while it wasn’t a great novel for me, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it on the list. Thanks for mentioning 419! I would love to see a Canadian novel on the list as well.

    I can’t think of anything else I’ve read that could be on the list because I don’t really know enough about the prize to know what they look for, but I did think The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan was also a really good book this year. I expect to see it on all the Canadian lists this year.

    1. Jackie says:

      Shan, I hadn’t heard of ‘The Painted Girls’ before. I just looked it up and it doesn’t appear to be getting good reviews in the UK. I’m not sure ballet books are for me, but I’ll give it a try if I spot it in my library. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that a Canadian book appears on the Booker list.

  5. I don’t know much about any of these books except Americanah. I added it to my Nook last week, and it will be the first book of hers I’ve read.

    1. Jackie says:

      Andi, I preferred her previous books, but ‘Americanah’ is still very good. I hope you enjoy your first Adichie!

  6. LizzySiddal says:

    I would really like to see both Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life and Nadeem Aslam’s The Blind Man’s Garden on the longlist.

    1. Jackie says:

      Lizzy, I’m not a big fan of either author, but wouldn’t be surprised to see them on the list. I’ll be interested to see if the judges pick a mixture of styles or all have a similar taste in books.

  7. I’m interested to see what they come out with. I don’t tend to use book prizes as much of a guide on what to read — I trust book bloggers’ opinions way more — but it’s always neat to see what gets selected.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenny, I trust bloggers’ opinion much more too – that is why I always prefer this pre-Booker discussion to the real thing. I know the comments in this post will introduce me to more interesting books that the actual Booker longlist!

  8. I just finished, and really enjoyed, Burial Rites and I’m about to pick up Patrick Flanery’s Fallen Land, which I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Many of the others are not out here in the US yet, but I can’t wait for The Hired Man.

    I didn’t realize Claire Messud would be eligible! She must have UK/Canada ties or is there some other loophole in the Prize I don’t know about?

    1. Jackie says:

      Shannon, I’m not sure what the actual situation with Messud is, but I’ve seen several mentions of her eligibility. I think she lived in the UK? during childhood and got citizenship then? I’m not sure, but I have strong reason to believe she passes the criteria for nomination.

  9. Amy C says:

    A great list and gives me lots more ideas for my TBR. I haven’t read any of these yet but am eagerly awaiting ‘Americanah’ which I am on the waiting list for at my local library. Also I am another who hopes maybe ‘Life After Life’ might make it to the long list. I thought it was amazing in many respects though certainly not perfect.

    1. Jackie says:

      Amy, Glad you found the list useful :-)

  10. I also enjoyed Adichie’s previous books but since I have not read Americanah yet, I may just have to go with the raves and wish that she is picked.

    1. Jackie says:

      Reading Pleasure, Hopefully you’ll have chance to read it sometime soon!

  11. Shawn says:

    Claire Messud and Patrick Flanery are both Americans and ineligible for the Booker.

    I landed upon his post while surfing about and am not familiar with this blog, but I certainly hope certainly hope that the long list doesn’t consist of so many insufferable novels written for grannies.

    1. Jackie says:

      Shawn, Claire Messud and Patrick Flanery both have dual citizenship and are eligible for the Booker.

      Which books would you prefer to see on the longlist?

  12. I always love your Booker projection lists because they remind me how many books are eligible I didn’t realize were (due to author nationality and differing UK/US publication dates!) I’m eager to read many of these picks–great choices!

    1. Jackie says:

      Carrie, I actually think the US are producing better books this year, so I don’t blame you for not concentrating on as many books from other countries. I hope you enjoy any you decide to read!

  13. Laurie C says:

    I enjoyed reading through your list. The only one I have is The Woman Upstairs, and I’m starting it tonight! I don’t have any suggestions or objections to your list to share, unless maybe Transatlantic by Colum McCann is eligible. If so, I would think it might make the longlist. This exercise makes me realize I’ve been very America-centric in my reading lately!

    1. Jackie says:

      Laurie, I think I might start Transatlantic tonight to see why everyone is raving about it :-)

  14. LizF says:

    As I have The Hired Man on my library pile and have just started Secrecy, I will be interested to see if your predictions are correct – as I recall you have a pretty good strike rate for the longlist!

    1. Jackie says:

      Liz, I don’t expect to have as good a “strike rate” this year, as the competition is so close, but I hope that you enjoy your picks :-)

  15. Lizzy Siddal says:

    surely Margaret Atwood’s Maddaddam will be in with a shout and Eleanor cattonz’s The Luminaries.

    1. Jackie says:

      Lizzy, Yep. Both could easily make it, although having just seen the size of Catton’s I’m not looking forward to trying it – I had enough trouble trying to understand what was happening in The Rehearsal!

      1. Lizzy Siddal says:

        I abandoned The Rehearsal … But am looking forward to trying her second book.

        Just posted my wishlist longlist on Mookse’s forum btw.

  16. Simon4 says:

    An interesting list from which we can sadly exclude Claire Messud (born Cambridge, Mass.) and Patrick Flanery (born California, raised Omaha, Nebraska). Both fine novels written by non-Commonwealth writers. Mohsin Hamid must be a shoe-in for How to Get Filthy Rich you’d have thought (although there are always conspicuous absences). Atwood’s Maddaddam would seem likely, given her past MB form, and there are autumn novels from Colm Toibin, Nadifa Mohamed and Catherine O’ Flynn (among others) and I would like to see Gabriel Weston on the longlist for Dirty Work. Wild cards: Bernadine Evangelisto for The Loverman and Lars Iyer for Exodus. Of published titles, Jim Crace or Mohsin Hamid, or to win. But what a shame that John Le Carre does not allow his books to be considered.

    1. Jackie says:

      Simon, Patrick Flanery has UK citizenship (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/05/01/patrick-flanery-how-i-write.html) Claire Messud is also eligible, although I’m afraid I can’t find a link to show her citizenship. Her wikipedia page says she has 3 passports http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claire_Messud. Her mother is Canadian and her father is French Algerian and this article tells of her growing up in Canada and Australia http://www.openfield.com.au/?p=393 I’ve been told many times that she is eligible – you’ll just have to trust me on this one!

      I wouldn’t be disappointed to see Dirty Work on the longlist – I thought it was a brave and thought provoking novel and I’d love more people to talk about it.

      Hamid’s novel could well be on the list, but I’m told it isn’t anywhere near as good as The Reluctant Fundamentalist (which I thought was a very impressive book)

      I didn’t realise O’Flynn had a novel out in the Autumn – it only seems like yesterday I was reading her last one. I’d love to see what it is like!

      Thanks for all the suggestions!

    2. CBaker says:

      Claire Messud was nominated for the Booker Longlist in 2006, so unless she has since renounced her citizenship of eligibility, whether it is CA, UK, or AU, she is eligible.

  17. Colin says:

    I’m not well-informed about modern literature at all, but your list seems to me a very good place for someone like me to start. It has a wide range of styles, authors and genres – all of which you outline very clearly in your comments.

    1. Jackie says:

      Colin, Thank you for commenting for the first time! I’m pleased that you found this post useful.

  18. Josh3011 says:

    I haven’t read any of the books you’ve selected, but – if it’s anywhere near as good as Let the Great World Spin – I’d like to see Colum McCann’s TransAtlantic make the cut.

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