My 2017 Man Booker wish list

Despite swearing off Man Booker predictions a few years back I can’t seem to keep away although I must emphasize that my track record is pretty dismal so don’t go laying any bets on my suggestions. To be eligible for the prize all books must be published in the UK between October 1st 2016 and 30th September 2017 and have been written in English. It’s quite possible that I’ll read a gem I’d loved to have included here published before 30th September but I’m sticking to novels I’ve already read. Like the judges I’ve allowed myself twelve books, although they sometimes stretch to thirteen. Their list will be revealed on Thursday 27th July but here’s mine – wishes not predictions, see above – in no particular order:

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The Fatal Tree                                             Birdcage Walk                             Reservoir 13

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The End We Start From                      The Answers                      Conversations with Friends

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A Line Made by Walking               Before Everything                            The Nix

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The Hearts of Men                     Johannesburg                              Forest Dark

Usually several titles jostle for position as my top choice but this year there’s no contest – Jon McGregor’s Reservoir 13. No reflection on the merits of the other books: McGregor’s writing is sublime and this is quite possibly his best work yet. I’ll be searching for a hat to eat if it doesn’t make it on to the longlist at the very least. If you’d like to read my review, a click on a title will take you to it. A reviews of Forest Dark to follow soon, as will a what I got up to on my holidays post later in the week for those who might be interested.

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

24 thoughts on “My 2017 Man Booker wish list”

  1. Interesting selection Susan. I have read literally none of them! I’ll be rooting for McGregor, most likely, just because his writing is generally sublime, but emotionally for Dunmore even though I’m yet to read any of her work. It feels like she deserves the recognition even if she didn’t live to see it.
    Likely it will be an entirely different list of books none of us have read! That’s how it seems to turn out every year.

    1. I have everything crossed for the McGregor, Belinda. Sadly, the Dunmore doesn’t qualify as she died before the announcement, as someone pointed out to me on Twitter, but her book’s staying put on my list. After all, these are wishes not predictions. I do know exactly what you mean by the yawning gap between what you’d like to see and what actually appears although sometimes some gems are revealed!

  2. I’ve never gotten into the predictions game; I know I’d be hopeless at it! Of your 12 picks I’ve only read one, Forest Dark, which I found equal parts impressive and frustrating. I have three of the others on my Kindle and would like to get to them soon — including McGregor, of course.

  3. I’ve never made predictions (mostly because the prep time clashes with the Australian Stella Prize which I follow closely) however I have read two of your predictions and thought both were excellent (the Baume and the Rooney). For my money, I think Baume has the goods – multi-layered, beautifully written and a slightly different perspective on mental illness than I’ve read before.

    1. It would certainly be good to see the Baume on the longlist at least. I’m not holding my breath for much of an overlap between the judges’ selection and mine, though. We’ll see

    1. Delighted to hear that, Clare. As I was pondering which books I wanted to see on the list, I remembered just how good The Nix is. Fingers crossed that the judges think so too.

  4. I’ve been bemused by the Booker Prize since Flaubert’s Parrot didn’t win in 1984. When I was looking up the date, Google told me that everyone else was bemused that Empire of the Sun didn’t win that year. Either way, no one thought Hotel du Lac should have won. That’s how it’s been for me ever since. Although some very good books have won, sometimes books often seem be shortlisted because they’re interesting technically. They’re not always very satisfying to read.

    I hope some of your favourites make it. They would keep the reading public happy.

  5. I am completely unprepared for this year’s prize having read so few newly published works. I suspect we may see Ann Patchett on the list. Salman Rushdie has a new one coming out which I think will still fit with the rules – in previous years the longlist has included books not yet published so he should be ok. Sadly no Hilary Mantel this year though, she still hasn’t finished her Cromwell trilogy. Sigh

  6. I’ve only read of them – Reservoir 13 – and I can see how it would appeal to the panel because of its original style. A pity about Birdcage Walk – although I haven’t read it yet, it is in my TBR. I think you are brave to even attempt to predict the list. I’ve read a lot of new work this year but I’ve no idea what will catch the panel’s eye. If I had to stick my neck out I’d go for Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo (shortlisted for Bailey’s Prize) and Days Without End by Sebastian Barry (since it won Costa & Walter Scott Prizes). I’d be thrilled to see some of the other historical fiction I’ve enjoyed this year: Miss Boston & Miss Hargreaves by Rachel Malik, Mussolini’s Island by Sarah Day and Shelter by Sarah Franklin.

    1. Ah, these are definitely wishes. I’ve learned my lesson with predictions! Interesting selection of titles – I’ve not yet read Stay with Me but have heard lots of good things about it.

  7. It’s always fun to see the predictions! I haven’t read any of these, but hope to read Reservoir 13 at some point (although my library doesn’t have any of his books…). And I’m encouraged to see that Forest Dark is on your list.

  8. I’m unlikely to have read many if any either this year, I haven’t read any that you mention but I’ll be looking forward to discovering what might appeal from the longlist. Thanks for sharing your predictions!

    1. You’re welcome, Claire, although they’re wishes rather than predictions. My track record for accuracy on that score isn’t great so I’ve given up second-guessing the judges!

  9. I’m so caught up with french fiction these days ( takes me much longer to finish a book) …tat I haven’t read any of these ! Normally I have read 2 or 3 that appear on the LL . I do have the McGregor and (obvs) want to read the Dunmore. Look forward to your holiday post !

    1. That’s very good to hear, April. It’s the only one I managed to get right which is why I’m very firm about ‘wishes’ rather than ‘predictions’. However if McGregor hadn’t made it onto the list I would have had to give up on the whole thing in disgust!

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