Belated Booker

August 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

Does it say more about my local library or this year’s Booker prize that the library has only three of the books on the shortlist? Hilary Mantel is there of course, along with Rachel Joyce and, more surprisingly, Tan Twan Eng.

What to make of a list that has missed off so many expected big hitters? Self and Frayn are the only two obvious names, although I’m very surprised to see farce on the Booker longlist. I don’t feel any need for a longlist made up entirely of the predictable names, but I would have expected at least a couple from this list (stolen from Farmlanebooks):

NW by Zadie Smith, The Deadman’s Pedal by Alan Warner, No Time Like the Present by Nadine Gordimer, The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey, Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears, Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan, Mountains of the Moon by I J Kay, The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman, All is Song by Samantha Harvey, How It All Began by Penelope Lively, Pure by Timothy Mo, Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding, The Forrests by Emily Perkins, Merivel by Rose Tremain, The Colour of Milk by Nell Leyshon, The Light of Amsterdam by David Park, A Division of the Light by Christopher Burns, The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber

(NB I haven’t checked if these are all eligible, and personally I’m happy that the as-yet unreleased titles here didn’t make the list–there’s at least a couple on the longlist that haven’t been released.)

There are five books I already wanted to read: Levy, Moore, Self (whose book might in fact be coming to the library, but I couldn’t bring myself to trawl through the hundreds of mostly self-help and wishful-thinking volumes that “will self” brings up in its search engine), Thayil and Thompson. Based on previous exposure I wasn’t very interested in Barker, Brink or Mantel (shame on me, yes, yes, I know), and put off by the reviews of Michael Frayn and Rachel Joyce. The two new names to me are Ned Beauman and Tan Twan Eng. The latter’s two book titles score a full house in my bad-title-words bingo (Garden! Rain! Gift! Mist! Evening!). Can I overcome my prejudices and crack the spine?

It does surprise me that I haven’t read a single one. It’ll be interesting to see what the quality of the writing is like as I work my way through.

Anyone else planning to read the whole dozen?

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