Tomorrow the Man Booker Prize shortlist is announced.
I’m always excited about the Booker. It has introduced me to so many brilliant authors over the years: A. S. Byatt, Anita Brookner, Penelope Fitzgerald, Graham Swift, Peter Carey, Allen Hollingsworth, Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai, and the list goes on and on. And the nominees are often even better than the winners.
But one of my favorites, William Trevor, never won. And I rooted for him four times.
I kept up with the Booker till 2011, the year nobody liked the longlist. (And I really didn’t like it.)
But one of my real-life best friends, who asks to be called The Man on the Street, has read six from the longlist this year, and agreed to share his star ratings.
He says flippantly, “We take our Booker very seriously in Des Moines. What else is there to do after the State Fair?”
But he is not, alas, overly-impressed with this year’s longlist.
HERE ARE HIS RATINGS OF SIX ON THE LONGLIST (WITH FIVE STARS BEING THE HIGHEST RATING):
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie ★★★★ (four stars out of five)
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid ★★★★ (four stars out of five)
Days Without End by Sebastian Barry ★★★1/2 (three-and-a-half stars out of five)
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders ★★★ (three stars out of five)
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead ★★★ (three stars out of five)
Autumn by Ali Smith ★★ (two stars out of five)
He says his favorite is Home Fire, which he describes as a well-plotted, well-written retelling of Antigone.
Is anyone else keeping up with the Booker reading this year? What do you recommend?