I’ve been a big fan of the Booker Prize ever since I first moved to London. Coming from America, we have big prizes, of course. But I never felt such a national respect and sense of occasion for a literary prize until coming here. Here is a book prize that is actually on the news. That is talked about in culture shows. That I’ve overheard people discussing on the tube. The prize has changed a lot in the past years. I do feel somewhat dismayed that it’s now open to America as well as it doesn’t seem necessary. But I’m still excited about it. Given that this year the Booker Prize is open to any book written in English it felt near impossible to make any predictions about what books might be on the long list so I haven’t made one rather than rooting for an author here and there on twitter. So here is the long list with links to my reviews for the two that I’ve read.
How to be Both - Ali Smith
J - Howard Jacobson
The Bone Clocks - David Mitchell
Us - David Nicholls
The Lives of Others - Neel Mukherjee
The Wake - Paul Kingsnorth
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour - Joshua Ferris
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler
The Blazing World - Siri Hustvedt
Orfeo - Richard Powers
The Narrow Road to the Deep North - Richard Flanagan
The Dog - Joseph O’Neill
History of the Rain - Niall Williams
Personally I'm sad not to see Susan Barker, Monique Roffey, Linda Grant, Emma Healey, Rachel Seiffert or Damon Galgut on the list. And it's surprising not to see Sarah Waters listed given how much positive feedback about her new novel I've been hearing. But I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the longlisted books before the winner is announced on Tuesday, October 14th.
Given that there are only three women on the longlist it's not surprising a debate has been sparked on the gender imbalance. This issue is a complicated one and it's being explored here on Naomi's blog: http://thewritesofwoman.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/the-man-booker-prize-longlist-2014-where-are-the-women/ Do read through and consider the comments as well.