Tag: Almost English

My Thoughts on the Man Booker

Posted September 7, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 0 Comments

man booker 2013The shortlist for the Man Booker Prize will be announced soon (September 10) and I thought I might talk about my feelings towards this prize. While I have a love/hate relationship with literary awards in general I seem to really like the longlist this year, but this hasn’t been always the case. My problem with literary prizes is that they feel more like popularity contests rather than judging books on their literary merit. Don’t get me started with the Stella prize because that is an argument that might give you the wrong idea about me (I do have similar problems with all awards that are exclusive). I digress and need to get back to the Man Booker Prize.

This prize is weird and I can’t get my head around it, some years there are a few books in the longlist that are so popular they you can’t help but know they would win; example Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies and then other years (like this one) the longlist is so unusual and surprising that you have no idea what to expect. I don’t want to care about the Man Booker but really can’t help but get wrapped up with the hype. There have been some winners that were surprising and I ended up loving; Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending is a great example of this. But I tend to be less interested in the winner and more interested with the longlist, I have a goal to one day read the entire longlist in that year. I don’t know if this will ever happen but I think it could be fun to try.

I’ve found some really interesting books in the long or shortlist; I personally think Deborah Levy’s Swimming Home was more deserving of the award last year than giving it to Hilary Mantel again. Last year’s longlist had some surprising books as well.   The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman was completely unexpected and I knew it was one I had to read, completely bizarre and full of unlikeable characters but brilliant. This year is no different, a mixed bag of books; I suspected TransAtlantic by Colum McCann and The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton might be favourites but I’m more interested in the unusual books like The Kills by Richard House, We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo and A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.

I have no idea what will make the shortlist or what the favourite is for winning. I also don’t know how many of the books from the long list I will read as; of the announcement I had only read one. and now two. I would love to know what people have read and what they are predicting for appear in the shortlist or even to win. I still have no idea how I feel about the Man Booker Prize, I will continue having mixed feelings of it being a popularity contest, joining in on the hype and getting excited about the unusual books that make the list but never win. I know I didn’t really answer the question of how I feel about the Man Booker because I really don’t know but I will love to hear some arguments for and against this award.

This year’s Man Booker prize longlist

  • Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw
  • We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
  • The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
  • Harvest by Jim Crace
  • The Marrying of Chani Kaufman by Eve Harris
  • The Kills by Richard House
  • The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Unexploded by Alison MacLeod
  • TransAtlantic by Colum McCann
  • Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson
  • A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
  • The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan
  • The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín