Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Man Booker Longlist



Book bloggers around the world were surprised when the longlist for the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction was announced yesterday. The predictions and favorites of many bloggers were far off the mark. The 13 books on the list include: a former Man Booker Prize winner; two previously shortlisted writers and one longlisted author; four first time novelists and three Canadian writers. Personally, I've only heard of three novels on the list. The other authors and novels are all new to me.

The Booker Longlist:
Julian Barnes The Sense of an Ending (Jonathan Cape - Random House)
Sebastian Barry On Canaan's Side (Faber)
Carol Birch Jamrach's Menagerie (Canongate Books)
Patrick deWitt The Sisters Brothers (Granta)
Esi Edugyan Half Blood Blues (Serpent's Tail - Profile)
Yvette Edwards A Cupboard Full of Coats (Oneworld)
Alan Hollinghurst The Stranger's Child (Picador - Pan Macmillan)
Stephen Kelman Pigeon English (Bloomsbury)
Patrick McGuinness The Last Hundred Days (Seren Books)
A.D. Miller Snowdrops (Atlantic)
Alison Pick Far to Go (Headline Review)
Jane Rogers The Testament of Jessie Lamb (Sandstone Press)
D.J. Taylor Derby Day (Chatto & Windus - Random House)

I must say that at first glance there wasn't one book on the list that grabbed my attention. But after some research on the internet, some of them became more interesting, particularly the following:

Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch
It's 1857 and. Jaffy Brown is literally saved from the jaws of death by Mr Jamrach, an explorer, entrepreneur and collector of strange creatures. Soon, Jaffy finds himself on board a ship bound for the Dutch East Indies, on an unusual commission for Mr Jamrach. An epic novel that brings alive the smells, sights and flavors of the nineteenth century.

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman
The story of Harri Opuku, an eleven-year-old immigrant from Ghana living in London with his older sister and mother. Together with his best friend Dean, a pair of camouflage binoculars and detective techniques learned from TV shows like CSI, Harri tries to solve the murder of his classmate.

Snowdrops by A.D. Miller
A riveting psychological drama set in Moscow. A young Englishman's is seduced by the new Russia: a land of hedonism and desperation, corruption and kindness.

Derby Day by D.J. Taylor
A gripping novel of romance and rivalry, gambling and greed set in the Victorian era.

Far to Go by Alison Pick
A powerful and moving story about one family's epic journey to flee the Nazi occupation of their homeland in 1939, and above all to save the life of a six-year-old boy.

The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers
In the near future, women have been infected by an airborne contaminant which causes maternal death syndrome (MDS). Anyone who becomes pregnant will automatically develop a form of CJD which ultimately kills them. Jessie Lamb, a teenage girl, has a chance to save the human race.

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Four school friends age and lose contact with one another. But one of them, Tony, cannot forget the memory of a particular weekend with his friends at his ex-girlfriend's home. An unexpected lawyer's letter leads Tony on a search through the murky past.


I highly doubt that I'll be able to read all these books by September 6th, which is when the shortlist will be announced. I'll start with Jamrach's Menagerie and Pigeon English, both of which I now have on my Kindle and are the ones that sounded the most interesting to me. Have you read any of the books on the longlist? Which ones do you recommend? Which ones do you plan to read?

12 comments:

  1. I borrowed Snowdrops and Far to Go from the library today. I want to take a look at as many of the longlist as I can. I doubt I will actually read them all though. My library has about half of the list, but not Barnes and Hollinghurst, which happen to be the two I most want to read, as I am a big fan of their writing. Thank goodness for Amazon and my Kindle! Barnes' book is not available until August 4, however. Geo restrictions strike again!

    I think it is a very diverse list this year, which is good to see. It's great that some of the smaller publishers are represented.

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  2. Hmm, I'll probably go with the Julian Barnes and the Alison Pick. People are always surprised by the Booker lists. I think readers must just be incredibly opinionated people! At least it's not like the Oscars where one movie always scoops up EVERYTHING.

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  3. I haven't read any of these, and have only read reviews on (2) of them so far. I better do some research and get busy reading...LOL

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  4. @Violet - I just got Snowdrops as well. It sounds good. Now I have 3 Bookers to read. I hope I finish them by September.

    @Diane - Yes, it was surprising that most of the books are new to everyone. There's not many reviews for most of them so it's hard to decide on which ones are worth reading.

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  5. Almost all of these books are new to me. The Booker and I aren't great friends, a lot of the time I didn't think that much about the shortlisted books or the winners. One book that I really enjoyed reading in recent times was The Gathering. Some of these books sound good! I will try to get ahold of them :)

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  6. @Vaishnavi - The Booker is also a hit and miss with me although I've enjoyed a number of longlisted and shortlisted Booker choices.

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  7. I had started on The Sisters Brothers and downloaded Jamrach's Menagerie even before the longlist was announced. Excited to finish both, as well as to get copies of The Sense of an Ending (I understand it's only 150 pages long.) and Pigeon English.

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  8. I really want to read The Stranger's Child. Although there are so many unknown titles in this list, they ALL look fab.

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  9. Derby Day and The Testament of Jessie Lamb are the only two I am really wanting to read at this point, but I am looking forward to reviews of the other books.

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  10. The two you're most interested in are the two I'm most interested in as well! I heard about Jamrach's Menagerie last month via the Goodreads newsletter, but my local library didn't yet have it (or at least, it wasn't yet in their catalog). It is now, so I'm glad to be reminded of its existence! And Pigeon English, too - I saw it in a bookstore recently and was intrigued but neglected to write down the title or author, and forgot to look it up again later.

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  11. @Aldrin - I want to read Sense of an Ending too.
    @reviewsbyLola- The Jessie Lamb book also sounds good.
    @Heather - I first heard of Jamrach's Menagerie when the longlist was announced. I hope it's good!

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  12. Sorry for the late reply to this post - I've been so busy this last week.

    I have read the two books you are starting with and found something to like in both of them, but wasn't that impressed overall. I hope you have more luck than I did with them and I look forward to seeing what you make of the rest of the list.

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