Putting a pause in my Scotland Posts (I promise, I only have a couple more of those), the Man Booker Long List (or “Man Booker Dozen”) was announced last week. The Man Booker prize is given to the “best novel,” written in English and published in the U.K. (a semi recent change of the Rules – previously, the authors had to be from the commonwealth) of the year.
I try to read the winner each year, but this year, I have decided to attempt to read the long-list before the short list is released on September 20th. As I went to Amazon to order the books, however, some of them have yet to be released, at least in the U.S. So my goal has been made easier (thank goodness, as I have a small pile of books sitting on my bedside table, and that pile has been slowly growing).
According to the Man Booker website, this year’s longlist include several dystopian books, giving this year’s list a theme of “a world on the brink.” Additionally, many explore social class, gender, and family.
And so, without more, the “Man Booker Dozen” are:
Belinda Bauer (UK), Snap (Bantam Press): a crime novel about a mother going missing, and the aftermath of her disappearance on the family.
Anna Burns (UK), Milkman (Faber & Faber) (preorder only in the US): a novel that explores the consequences of corrupt political life on one’s domestic/family life.
Nick Drnaso (USA), Sabrina (Granta Books): the first ever graphic novel to be on the long list. Another disappearance story line, but it is interwoven with how the 24-hour news cycle impacts our lives (a theme also explored by the 2003 Man Booker winner – Vernon God Little, and now, in my opinion, more relevant than ever).
Esi Edugyan (Canada), Washington Black (Serpent’s Tail) (preorder only in the US): a historical novel following an escaped slave on his road to freedom.
Guy Gunaratne (UK), In Our Mad and Furious City (Tinder Press): a novel following friends and their interaction with urban life, focusing on the lives of the marginalized and oppressed.
Daisy Johnson (UK), Everything Under (Jonathan Cape): the story of an absentee mother trying to re-connect with her daughter and of the language they had invented together before the mother left.
Rachel Kushner (USA), The Mars Room (Jonathan Cape): a novel about incarceration in America. This novel explores the criminal justice system, as well as gender, class, and the failure of the American Dream.
Sophie Mackintosh (Wales, UK), The Water Cure (Hamish Hamilton): likened to the Handmaiden’s Tale, this novel explores the story of a mother and three girls who are kept on an island by the father – until one day the father leaves, and the women are left to survive on their own.
Michael Ondaatje (Canada), Warlight (Jonathan Cape): Ondaatje was just awarded the Golden Man Booker Prize for his novel The English Patient (which has also been turned into an academy award wining film, by the same name; starring Ralph Fiennes, may be better known as Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter films). This novel, however, follows two children after the end of World War II and their mysterious caretaker.
Richard Powers (USA), The Overstory (Willian Heinemann): The Overstory is a story of the environment. Following nine very different individuals, the novel eventually brings them together as each tries to save the final few trees left in the world. This novel explores global warming, and its effects on all classes, genders, and races.
Robin Robertson (Scotland, UK), The Long Take (Picador): The Long Take is actually a novel in verse form. It follows a man suffering from PTSD, and his attempt to cope with live after war.
Sally Rooney (Ireland), Normal People (Faber & Faber) (preorder only in the US): this novel looks at the intersection between classes through the lens of children. A young middle class girl befriends her parents’ house cleaner’s son. The story watches them grow up in two distinct social circles while trying to maintain their connection.
Donal Ryan (Ireland), From a Low and Quiet Sea (Doubleday Ireland): Separated into four parts – the first three sections tell the story of three men. The first, a man deciding whether to flee Syria with his family. The second, a brokenhearted bus-driver in Ireland. And, lastly, a manipulator searching for forgiveness. The final sections brings all three together in their search for home and acceptance.
This year’s judges include: Kwame Anthony Appiah (Chair); Val McDermid; Leo Robson; Jacqueline Rose; and Leanne Shapton.
I am still waiting on a couple of the books to get to my house, but, as some of them have arrived, let the reading begin!