…has been announced, and this is what it looks like:
The Sea - John Banville
Arthur & George - Julian Barnes
A Long Long Way - Sebastian Barry
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
The Accidental - Ali Smith
On Beauty - Zadie Smith
No major surprise, except perhaps that James Meek’s The People’s Act of Love was left out – I haven’t read it but apparently it was the favourite in some circles (including the Guardian – admittedly biased, what with Meek being on their rolls). Big names like McEwan, Rushdie and Coetzee are out of the reckoning, but again, nothing so eyebrow-raising about that given how many big names there were on this year’s longlist to begin with. (As chairman of judges John Sutherland said, “There was sufficient quality this year for two distinguished lists.”)
Have read three of the six books on the shortlist (the Ishiguro, the Barnes, the Ali Smith) and will tackle the others anon. I have a feeling this could be Barnes’s year (not just because of my high opinion of Arthur & George but because he’s a veteran - and a member of that famous Granta young authors’ class of 1981 - who’s never won the prize before).
It’s only in the last 3-4 years that I’ve developed an excitement for the Booker announcements comparable to Oscar-nomination mania (and no, I’m not saying I have much respect for either the Booker or the Oscars, or any other competitive award – just that these events are always such fun, both for speculative purposes and for mugging up trivia).
P.S. Fun's begun already – much scrapping on the Guardian blog.