Thursday, September 8, 2011

Man Booker Short List Announced

Earlier this week, the 2011 Man Booker Prize Shortlist was announced.  The titles are:

Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending (Jonathan Cape)
Carol Birch Jamrach’s Menagerie (Canongate Books)
Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers (Granta)
Esi Edugyan’s Half Blood Blues (Serpent’s Tail)
Stephen Kelman’s Pigeon English (Bloomsbury)
A. D. Miller’s Snowdrops (Atlantic)

What a surprising list!  The list includes two debut novelists (Miller and Kelman), four independent publishers and two Canadians.  Alan Hollinghurt, a former Booker winner whose The Stranger's Child was a very strong contender, surprisingly did not make the shortlist. 

So far, I have read three of the shortlist novels: Barnes, Miller and Birch.  Of them, Barnes, who has been on the Booker short list three times, is my favorite.  I was not a fan of Miller's book, and Birch's, while good, was not amazing.  Edugyan's is an interesting story -- the black experience in Nazi Germany.  (Since that is a less well-worn story, I think that's why my favorite, Alison Pick, didn't make the list.)  Pigeon English has received a lot of very good press and one the Guardian First Novel Award. It is the story of an 11 year old Ghana-born child living among the gangs and projects of London.  I've read part of it and the voice is strong.  Strangely, it includes a talking pigeon.  Critics don't like the pigeon but seem to forgive Kelman for it.  Lastly, there is The Sister's Brothers, a western.  While U.S. books are not eligible participants for the competition (and, many westerns come out of the US), since this was published first in Canada, it made it into the process.  

My guess is that it is either Barnes, Edugyan or Kelman.  (If Miller wins, I'm done making predictions.)  Because the process has favored the "new" and "innovative", I'm guessing it is Kelman.

The winner is announced on October 18.  Meanwhile, enjoy reading these novels.

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