My 2016 Man Booker wish list

Man Booker logoIt’s that time of year again. I had thought I might ignore the whole kit and caboodle this time around but I was prodded into action by an analysis of trends in Man Booker winners subtitled ‘Male and Middle-aged in Third Person. On that basis mine is a list of no-hopers, or close to it, with just two men making the grade and only one of those middle-aged. It wasn’t planned that way just the way this year’s cookie crumbled. That said, isn’t it about time that the judges paid a little more attention? Or perhaps that should be publishers. They, after all, are the ones who nominate titles to be considered, aside from the odd one or two that the judges call in. And while we’re on that subject, why is it that the more titles a publisher has longlisted in previous years, the more they’re allowed to nominate in following years? Seems to favour the big boys and girls to me.

Like the judges I’ve allowed myself twelve books, although they sometimes stretch to thirteen. It’s quite possible that I’ll read a gem I’d loved to have included published before 30th September – Sara Taylor’s The Lauras, for instance or Ron Rash’s Above the Waterfall – but I’m determined to include only the tried and tested. The judges will reveal their list on Wednesday 27th July but here’s mine – wishes not predictions, see above – in no particular order, with links to my reviews:

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The Book of Memory                     Undermajordomo Minor              The Long Room

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Exposure                                            Under the Visible Life               My Name is Lucy Barton

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What Belongs to You                   The Cauliflower                         The Gun Room

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The Essex Serpent                           The Crime Writer                     The Tidal Zone

What about you? What would you like to see on the list, and what do you think the judges will plump for?

31 thoughts on “My 2016 Man Booker wish list

  1. MarinaSofia

    Oooh, I like that new cover of the Petina Gappah book – very evocative!
    I think I have at least six of the books you mention above on my TBR list and hope to get to read them very soon. Especially excited by the last three you mention. Ah, well, always good to have a wishlist… as for winning…

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Lovely, isn’t it? One or two might make it on there but I’ve learned from long experience that the Booker judges rarely agree with what I’d like to see on their list!

      Reply
  2. Kate W

    I hope the Elizabeth Strout makes the list. I’d also like to see Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things there and, as a long shot, Shirley Barrett’s Rush Oh!

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      I’m always one for the long shot as you can probably tell from my list. I’ve heard lots of good things about the Wood.

      Reply
  3. Poppy Peacock

    Glad to see Lucy Barton on the list… I’ve several of the others on the TBR, ahem, mostly due to your recommendations… so while the prize/judges may suffer from tunnel-vision be reassured that you are helping the rest of us challenge that trait!

    Reply
  4. lonesomereadereric

    Really interesting to see your choices! Several of these I really want to read and haven’t got to yet: The Long Room, Exposure, The Cauliflower, The Essex Serpent.
    I guessed The Tidal Zone and What Belongs to You as making the list as well. I loved The Book of Memory and My Name is Lucy Barton also and would be so happy to see them on the list.
    Other books I’m hoping to see on there are Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett, Chinelo Okparanta’s Under the Udala Trees, Deborah Levy’s Hot Milk & Rose Tremain’s The Gustav Sonata. Julian Barnes’ new novel is excellent as well and he would be the likely big male name – although Graham Swifts new novel is also really good and Ian McEwan has a new one out soon. But how boring would it be for all these famous male writers to be on the list?
    I haven’t read Annie Proulx’s Barkskins yet but it’s supposed to be magnificent so could be a likely contender. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Absolutely agree – how boring indeed! I suspect the reality will be very different from my wishes. I must get around to Under the Udala Trees and Hot Milk but I’m daunted by Barkskins. Perhaps I’ll rely on you to review that for me!

      Reply
  5. JacquiWine

    It won’t surprise you to learn that I haven’t read any of these novels, but I do appreciate your tips and list of personal favourites! As far as these things go, the Booker (for all it’s limitations) is one of only a handful of prizes that seem to generate a decent level of interest among the wider reading public. (Well, I guess I’m judging on the basis of my fairly limited experience in the local community library.) Lucy Barton must be a shoo-in for the official list as it seems to have been a hit with such a wide range of readers. Likewise The Essex Serpent. But then again, who can tell… 😉

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Who can tell, indeed! Interesting that you should say that the Booker is one of only a handful of prizes that register with the wider reading public. There seems to have been an explosion of prizes over the last decade but it seems not to be spreading the word as much as the book world might hope. Fingers crossed for Lucy and the Serpent: they do seem to be the most likely to make the judges’ list along with The Tidal Wave which is gathering a good deal of critical acclaim.

      Reply
  6. BookerTalk

    You made a better job of this than I did. I also had Lucy Barton on my list. Not sure about The Essex Serpent though – sometimes the judges can be very sniffy re the ‘popular titles’

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      It’s very much a novel of ideas – much to think about. We’ll see… I’m sure most of my choices will fail to make the cut going by previous years.

      Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Thank you! Your lists(s) are so interesting – each very different from the other. Just one trend that I could spot – Barkskins whose size defeats me, I’m afraid, despite its author’s illustrious reputation. I nearly included The Girls as a thirteenth choice.

      Reply
  7. Elle

    I will have an absolute fit if The Tidal Zone and The Essex Serpent aren’t there. The Cauliflower, while it didn’t engage me emotionally, was interesting and innovative enough to deserve a place too, and Garth Greenwell’s What Belongs To You is beautiful writing that I’d be happy to see on the list. I’d like to read Under the Visible Life, too – I think it needs more champions/publicity, but I’ve heard it’s wonderful.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      I’ll join you in that fit, Elle, although if there’s an edible hat handy I may turn to that. Pleased do read the Echlin. It is wonderful – I can’t understand why it’s not received the attention and praise it deserves.

      Reply
  8. Naomi

    It’s always fun to see the lists and hear what everyone has to say about them, even if they are only ‘wishes’ rather than ‘predictions’. It shows me the books you love rather than the books you think the judges will love. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Thank you, Naomi, that’s exactly what I’m aiming at although I would like a few of these to get a bit more attention, the Echlin in particular.

      Reply
  9. A Little Blog of Books

    I really hope The Tidal Zone and The Essex Serpent are on the list too. I wasn’t totally bowled over by My Name is Lucy Barton but I can see why Strout could be a strong contender. My predictions list will be posted on my blog this weekend!

    Reply
  10. naomifrisby

    I’m trying to stay away from speculating this year – it only leaves me disappointed! – but I’ll be at the barricades if The Essex Serpent isn’t on there and The Cauliflower is genius and certainly deserves a place.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Me, too, but when I went through the list of what I’d read and rated highly this year and found it to be predominantly written by women I had to do it. I think those barricades will be pretty crowded if The Essex Serpent doesn’t make an appearance.

      Reply
  11. bookbii

    I will join you all at the barricades if The Essex Serpent isn’t on at least the longlist, it is a brilliant book. Haven’t read any of the others, though the Moss appeals and Nicola Barker is crackers and different and brilliant and should win something (but probably won’t).

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      It’s going to be pretty crowded out there on the barricades! Let’s hope the judges see sense. I suspect you’re probably right about Barker’s chances, though.

      Reply
  12. Claire 'Word by Word'

    Fabulous, love seeing what everyone mentions and suggests, especially the books that they loved as opposed to those they think the judges will go for, for other reasons!

    I think Barkskins is likely to win a few American prizes, especially as it covers such a momentous period of history and I do think it is a novel that will endure for that reason, but it’s length and compromise regarding some characters will expose it flaws to a panel I believe.

    Look forward to choosing a few more books to read from the many suggestions!

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Truth be told, Claire, I’m more interested to see what bloggers whose reviews I enjoy would like to see on the list rather than what actually ends up on it. I’ll be nipping over to your blog shortly to read your Barkskins review.

      Reply

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