Man Booker Prize Longlist 2013

Man Booker 2013 logoI have blogged about the Man Booker Prize every summer since 2009.  This year I haven’t mentioned it.

But I love awards.

Only I’m a little wary now.

I used to read a couple of the Booker longlisted books every year.  Occasionally, but not often, I got around to the winners.

Naturally, I complained a great deal.  My favorites never won.  What happened to A. S. Byatt’s The Children’s  Book?  Or Sebastian Barry’s On Canaan’s Side?

I couldn’t face Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall (the 2009 winner). I couldn’t even keep my Cromwells straight.  I thought her novel was about the other Cromwell, Oliver.  No, it was about Thomas.  No American would want to read about Oliver or Thomas Cromwell, I thought.  (I read it last year, however, and it was as good as everyone said.)

In 2010 I bravely read a few  inconsequential books on the Booker longlist, like Lisa Moore’s Feburary  (which I compared  to the episode of Friends where Rachel had the baby) and Alan Warner’s The Stars in the Bright Sky (surely a Y.A. book!)

In  2011 Dame Stella Rimington, the chair of the judges that year, emphasized the prize would go for readability.   I read a couple of very violent books on that longlist:  Yyvette Edwards’ A Cupboard Full of Coats  and Stephen Kelman’s Pigeon English (surely another Y.A. book!).  The literary novels, with the exception of the winner, Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending, didn’t make the shortlist.

How about last year?  Sorry, I am so far behind I haven’t read any of them except Will Self’s Umbrella. But in 2012, Sir Peter Stothard, TLS editor, author of Alexandria:  The Last Days of Cleopatra, and chair of the judges last year,  said they were interested in literary fiction.  Writers and critics were pleased.

Last year I caught up with previous winners.  I finally read Mantel’s Wolf Hall (2009), and Howard Jacobson’s The Finkler Question (2010).

And so this year I am catching up with Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending (2011) and HIlary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies (2012).  Then I will have read almost the complete list of Booker winners.

Where does this leave the 2013 longlist?

I have already read most of Colum McCann’s Transatlantic (beautifully-written, but disappointing: the historical transatlantic-in-Ireland segments don’t connect very well ).  I also have  copy of Colm Tóibín’s The Testament of Mary (written originally as a monologue, so I am doubtful, but I will read it).

Transatlantic colum mccann

I will decide whether to read the other longlisted books on a scale  of my own invention:

1.  The Basically American Scale”:  Jhumpa Lahiri, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

2.  The Most Interesting Scale:  Jim Crace

3. The Great Writer Scale:  Colm Tóibín

4.  The Best Little-Known in the U.S. English Writer:  Charlotte Mendelson

I’m sure many of these other writers are excellent, too, but I don’t know their work.

Here is the complete list.   And if you’ve read any of them and can recommend them, let me know.

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

10 thoughts on “Man Booker Prize Longlist 2013

  1. When I see the Booker list I realize how little contemporary fiction I read. That said, I loved Wolf Hall, which was about so much more than Cromwell himself. He was interesting, of course, and not the nogoodnik I remembered from my English history course, but it was also about changes in religious attitudes and the availability of the Bible in English (and cheap printing) and much else.

    Also I read anything Jhumpa Lahiri writes, but I haven’t seen this one yet.


  2. Like Silver Season I read very little contemporary fiction and I find nowadays that the Booker list leaves me fairly cold – the last time I approved was I think when Margaret Atwood won for Blind Assassin! But I admire anyone who can read through these prize lists – I couldn’t!


  3. Kat, the most help I can offer (and it is not much) is to tell you that ‘The Luminaries’ is on my TBR list recommended by Cornflower. I cannot remember why I added it. My library doesn’t have it yet. I will probably never get around to reading any of the others.


  4. Kat, I recently started A Tale for the Time Being and got to page 27. Even more recently I started again and got to page 60. I intend to read on now. I am basing my willingness to go on mostly on Ruth Ozeki’s bio (book jacket) and on Madeline Miller’s comment: “One of the most deeply moving and thought-provoking novels I have read in a long time.” I also have a hold on The Luminaries at the local library.


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