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Booker Prize for Fiction > 2016 Booker Longlist Discussion

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message 1: by Trevor (last edited Jul 27, 2016 04:04AM) (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1859 comments Mod
Here is the longlist. Discuss it in general below. The books' individual pages will be up soon and their links will be below. Go to them to discuss individual books.

-Paul Beatty (US): The Sellout (Oneworld)

-J.M. Coetzee (South African-Australian): The Schooldays of Jesus (Harvill Secker)

-A.L. Kennedy (UK): Serious Sweet (Jonathan Cape)

-Deborah Levy (UK): Hot Milk (Hamish Hamilton)

-Graeme Macrae Burnet (UK): His Bloody Project (Contraband)

-Ian McGuire (UK): The North Water (Scribner UK)

-David Means (US): Hystopia (Faber & Faber)

-Wyl Menmuir (UK): The Many (Salt)

-Ottessa Moshfegh (US): Eileen (Jonathan Cape)

-Virginia Reeves (US): Work Like Any Other (Scribner UK)

-Elizabeth Strout (US): My Name Is Lucy Barton (Viking)

-David Szalay (Canada-UK): All That Man Is (Jonathan Cape)

-Madeleine Thien (Canada): Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Granta Books)


message 2: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments First impression: a serious and dark set of books.


message 3: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1859 comments Mod
I managed to get four right, but not necessarily the four I'd have put money on. I was certain LaRose and Mothering Sunday would be on there. Ah well. Onward with this list, which has several books I haven't heard of.


message 4: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3540 comments Mod
Thanks Trevor. Since I've just created a copy of the list with links for another group, I thought I'd paste it here too:

Paul Beatty (US) - The Sellout (Oneworld)
J.M. Coetzee (South African-Australian) - The Schooldays of Jesus (Harvill Secker)
A.L. Kennedy (UK) - Serious Sweet (Jonathan Cape)
Deborah Levy (UK) - Hot Milk (Hamish Hamilton)
Graeme Macrae Burnet (UK) - His Bloody Project (Contraband)
Ian McGuire (UK) - The North Water (Scribner UK)
David Means (US) - Hystopia: A Novel (Faber & Faber)
Wyl Menmuir (UK) -The Many (Salt)
Ottessa Moshfegh (US) - Eileen (Jonathan Cape)
Virginia Reeves (US) - Work Like Any Other: A Novel (Scribner UK)
Elizabeth Strout (US) - My Name Is Lucy Barton (Viking)
David Szalay (Canada-UK) - All That Man Is (Jonathan Cape)
Madeleine Thien (Canada) - Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Granta Books)


message 5: by Carl (new)

Carl (catamite) | 137 comments I had three right. Gosh, there are quite a few I'd never heard of. I thought the Szalay was a short story collection?


message 6: by Ang (new)

Ang | 1685 comments I'm excited by the list. I've only read two, and very happy they are there (Levy and Strout). I'm picking up Serious Sweet shortly so that's what I'll start with.


message 7: by David (new)

David (goodreadscombooksniffer) | 27 comments Well, this is the first time in years that the longlist has featured books I'd not heard of ("His Bloody Project" and "The Many") so that is exciting in itself. I've had so little time for reading this year that I've only read one of the books ("My Name is Lucy Barton", which I loved), but the Reeves and the Szalay were both books I'd had my eye on so I'll be getting those, though I too was under the impression that the Szalay was a story collection.
I might read the Madeleine Thien too as I quite liked her last one ("Dogs at the Perimeter") and doubtless it will be on the Giller longlist too.
Alas, I won't have time to read many more than that as I currently have a pile of 14 children's novels to read for work.


message 8: by Trevor (last edited Jul 27, 2016 05:15AM) (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1859 comments Mod
Only three are not currently slated to be published in the U.S.: The Many, His Bloody Project and Do Not Say We Have Nothing). A few won't be out in the U.S. for a few months: All That Man Is and Serious Sweet in October; The Schooldays of Jesus next February.

I think the rest are available.


message 9: by Dan (last edited Jul 27, 2016 05:37AM) (new)

Dan I'm no longer surprised when worthy and eligible novels are excluded from the longlist. But I am disappointed that Mothering Sunday and LaRose are not included, and I also think that The Noise of Time would have been a worthy inclusion. Of those on the longlist, I've read My Name Is Lucy Barton and The North Water, both of which I found compelling and memorable. By my count, six titles on the longest are not yet published in the U.S. (Coetzee, Kennedy, Macrae Burnet, Menmuir, Szalay, Thien). Unfortunately, I usually have limited success in convincing our local public library to order books published in the UK and Canada.


message 10: by Trudie (new)

Trudie (trudieb) Oh this is exciting. I have not read any of these titles but some have crossed my radar. I have ordered as many as I can from the local library and will hopefully be able to contribute to discussions as they come up or at least figure out which ones I want to own. This is my favourite time of year not least for the discussion it generates on here ;). However, woefully I still have last years winner to get through....


message 11: by Jibran (new)

Jibran (marbles5) | 289 comments This is perhaps the most Anglo-centric longlist in recent years with a half exception of Madeleine Thien who is Canadian with (it seems) Chinese origins and her novel is also set in China.

It would be disappointing, and a bit ironic, if Booker's recent liberalisation works against diversity.


message 12: by John (new)

John Goddard | 43 comments Bother... Another year of not spotting any in advance! I had read a few I thought might be there, including Mothering Sunday and Red Chairs... On the other hand that's a whole new list to explore!


message 13: by Ethan (new)

Ethan Devitius | 11 comments I've read three prior to listing:

The Sellout (Beatty)
My Name is Lucy Barton (Strout)
Hot Milk (Levy)

Of those, I most enjoyed My Name is Lucy Barton, though not especially so. I think it is probably the favourite to win, at this stage, based on critical response and readership. If so, that would mark the first American winner (James last year is a Jamaican working in the US).

The one I most look forward to is All That Man Is (Szalay) and will read it first. A debate about "short story collection" vs. "unified work" sounds like it might follow it through the prize.

Others that piqued my interest are:

His Bloody Project (Burnet)
The North Water (McGuire)

The ones I've reacted against at first blush are:

Serious Sweet (Kennedy)
Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Thien)

The Many (Menmuir) sounds to me dull and perhaps even trite (I'm sure that's just the synopsis), but at 160pp it's worth taking the chance!


message 14: by Ethan (last edited Jul 27, 2016 09:42AM) (new)

Ethan Devitius | 11 comments When the longlist is released, I've been in the habit of making a small spreadsheet (Excel) to list some of the common information regarding each novel, including things like author gender and nationality, book length, publication date, ratings and ranks (Amazon UK, GR), mostly just so I have a list to tick off as I try to read through them, but I guess also as a way of comparing and contrasting and understanding the list.

Each year it does not surprise me that there is always a fine balance, I dearsay a calculated balance, between them in regards to the author demographics, for example male/female and UK/non-UK.

Each year I'm disappointed to reveal this balance, because I imagine it's intentional, a conscious decision by the panel, and I wonder whether I'm missing out on better books.

In my opinion, Man Booker longlists don't feel like they're representative of the best English-language books each year, and I have a better strike-rate of experiencing better reads based on one of more of a combination of critical review, word-of-mouth, and personal interest than I do by following the Man Booker.

So when I look at my spreadsheet this year, yes, it looks weighted toward (imbalanced perhaps) toward the Anglo-sphere or 'Commonwealth plus US."

I strongly feel that that fact, by itself, shouldn't be used as a criticism against the prize or the collective of books that make-up this longlist.

My belief is that advocacy (more female writers, more black writers, more Asian writers) distracts and subtracts from the merit a prize is suppose to be awarding.


message 15: by Darryl (new)

Darryl (kidzdoc) | 0 comments Three of the longlisted books are available in electronic version from Amazon for less than $10 USD: His Bloody Project ($5.99), Hot Milk ($9.99), and The Many ($7.99). I ordered all three, along with The North Water ($12.99).


message 16: by Lascosas (new)

Lascosas | 456 comments As usual, I've read none of the longlist, and as always, will read it all (or at least those that have been published) by the shortlist announcement. The Coetzee is scheduled to be published Sept 29 in the UK, way beyond the shortlist announcement. It will be interesting to see whether the publisher ups the publication date. I would doubt it. For those with access to UK Amazon Kindles, His Bloody Project is currently available for £1.99.


message 17: by Doug (last edited Jul 27, 2016 09:55AM) (new)

Doug Well, this was a surprise, and not necessarily a pleasant one. None of the possible contenders I read and LOVED - Imagine Me Gone, City on Fire, Why We Came to the City, Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, What Belongs to You - made the list. :-( Since all of these are by American-based authors and all but the last take place in the US, am wondering if this isn't a backlash against the new inclusivity ruling? The ONLY one I've read, so far - is Eileen - to which I gave a measly 2 star rating. Ah well, that means I have 12 other books to read which will hopefully prevail (I DO read the entire list, regardless!).


message 18: by Louise (new)

Louise | 224 comments Antonomasia wrote: "First impression: a serious and dark set of books."

I agree - can't say there are very many titles on the list that appeal to me. But then I'm not all that into bleak and depressing reads :-)
I'll give My Name Is Lucy Barton and Do Not Say We Have Nothing a go - but I doubt i'll read any of the others


message 19: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1859 comments Mod
Antonomasia wrote: "First impression: a serious and dark set of books."

I am not quite seeing this across the longlist. Perhaps we have a different idea of what serious and dark is, but this list looks more fun that what I typically think of with a Booker longlist. The inclusion of a few noir/mystery/thriller types seems more fun than serious, and with Means and Beatty on the list there's bound to be quite a bit of lightness.

I wondered if David Harsent, who has written several thrillers under a pseudonym, would bring some of this to the table. I welcome it!


message 20: by Dan (new)

Dan Jibran wrote: "This is perhaps the most Anglo-centric longlist in recent years with a half exception of Madeleine Thien who is Canadian with (it seems) Chinese origins and her novel is also set in China.

It wou..."
Jibran, I agree. Karan Mahajan's Association of Small Bombs, among others, could easily have been included on the longlist.

Trudie wrote: "Oh this is exciting. I have not read any of these titles but some have crossed my radar. I have ordered as many as I can from the local library and will hopefully be able to contribute to discussio..."


message 21: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments Jibran wrote: "This is perhaps the most Anglo-centric longlist in recent years with a half exception of Madeleine Thien who is Canadian with (it seems) Chinese origins and her novel is also set in China.

It would be disappointing, and a bit ironic, if Booker's recent liberalisation works against diversity."

That was one of the concerns when the change was made - that the US authors would squeeze out those from Commonwealth countries. The last two years it didn't, this it did. Seems to tie in with what I mentioned in the Speculation thread, that most of the big BAME/PoC literary fiction titles of this Booker year have had quite mixed reviews. There's such a lot of strong and Booker friendly writing from African countries & the Indian subcontinent that I'm sure they'll have a better year next year and this is a blip.

I wondered if David Harsent, who has written several thrillers under a pseudonym, would bring some of this to the table. I welcome it!
I was wondering whether to consider him going for the crime & thriller article or whether he might favour books somehow evocative of working-class origins. The former was evidently right.

I am not quite seeing this across the longlist. Perhaps we have a different idea of what serious and dark is, but this list looks more fun that what I typically think of with a Booker longlist.
They seem to be generally realist and dealing with tough life events. 'There is no there there' in this list is my feeling, synopses feel like characters & events are on the edge of a precipice. There's nothing apparently cosy, like fantasy-related elements (e.g. Essex Serpent, Sunlight Pilgrims), big Victorian-style historical novels to curl up with (e.g. Golden Hill), settings where it doesn't sound as if anything really terrible would happen (e.g. Trouble with Goats & Sheep, Lesser Bohemians), formal playfulness.


message 22: by Joe (new)

Joe (paddyjoe) | 76 comments Only one right in my speculation list, and the one I was most keen to see on the longlist - My Name Is Lucy Barton.
I do have Hot Milk, All That Man Is and The North Water on my TBR pile. Several of the books hadn't even featured on my radar.


message 23: by Will (last edited Jul 27, 2016 12:31PM) (new)

Will Joe wrote: Only one right in my speculation list, and the one I was most keen to see on the longlist - My Name Is Lucy Barton.

Same for me. The only other one that I've read is the Moshfegh and I hadn't expected it to be longlisted. The remainder of the list I picked up this morning at a local book store or ordered from The Book Depository. Time for me to get reading.


message 24: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments Lascosas wrote: "For those with access to UK Amazon Kindles, His Bloody Project is currently available for £1.99. "
Thanks for the tip. I got it from Sainsburys who have it the same price plus there's a July offer of 10x usual Nectar points.


message 25: by Ang (new)

Ang | 1685 comments I ended up buying All That Man Is instead of Serious Sweet when I had a look at them. I'll borrow Serious Sweet from the library and buy the US edition if it makes the shortlist. The UK edition looks too cheaply made, which is what we've had for a good few years now with most books.


message 26: by Jibran (new)

Jibran (marbles5) | 289 comments Antonomasia wrote: "That was one of the concerns when the change was made - that the US authors would squeeze out those from Commonwealth countries. The last two years it didn't, this it did. "

I wasn't really dismayed when they opened the Booker to the rest of the world and thought it would help boost the quality of entries which, imo, had kind of dipped in the last decade or so. Can't remember a Booker winner I'd proudly display on my bookshelf at home (but then I haven't read many, not the long ones which seem promising).

Don't know if the committee has any mechanism in place to promote books from a range of cultures. It would be a different kind of disappointment if they pushed books more for their origin and media friendly story than for their quality/style/freshness etc, which has happened in the past (The Finkler Question was an exercise in tasteless humour, Inheritance of Loss was a marvel of mediocrity, The White Tiger was a Westernised Indian ego boost, a novel most Indians dislike with a passion! - books wallowing in their own politics)

It was always going to be some balancing act to accommodate American authors because America alone produces a juggernaut of eligible books every year. That said, I reckon a lot depends on the panel of judges and the year of books, like people have been saying here how a few very decent books have been overlooked.


message 27: by MisterHobgoblin (new)

MisterHobgoblin I derived pretty much zero pleasure from last year's longlist and was determined that this year I wouldn;t bother with the Bookerthon. But this list looks genuinely interesting and I can already see plenty on it that I want to read - plus an AL Kennedy novel. I guess I might have something to contribute this year after all.


message 28: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1859 comments Mod
I'm glad for that, MisterHobgoblin. You're definitely a part of my yearly Booker season. If you disappeared, though I'd understand your reasons, I'm not sure what would happen to my Booker spirit.


message 29: by Lascosas (new)

Lascosas | 456 comments I agree with Trevor. Having MisterHobgoblin on board for the Booker is a definite plus (though we often disagree...for example I quite liked last year's longlist). It is nice to see so many new people, and it is only the first day.


message 30: by Antonomasia (last edited Jul 27, 2016 07:52PM) (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments The Many is £3.99 on Sainsburys Ebooks currently (and £5.something on Amazon & Kobo) - seems to have been reduced overnight. Possibly the other sites will follow in the daytime.


message 31: by James (new)

James Pomar | 92 comments The Many is also available on BookDepository for $7.71, I think it was, though I don't know what that comes out to in pounds.


message 32: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments £5.85 just now. UK price on there is £8.99, so you guys are getting a much better deal from them.


message 33: by Louise (new)

Louise | 224 comments I think my best long list of the last 8 y was 2014 - I had such fun with The Wake and The Blazing World was one of my best reads that year. I'll try to muster some more enthusiasm for this year :-)


message 34: by Antonomasia (last edited Jul 28, 2016 05:02AM) (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments Louise wrote: "I think my best long list of the last 8 y was 2014 - I had such fun with The Wake and The Blazing World was one of my best reads that year. I'll try to muster some more enthusiasm for this year :-)"
Yes, those two were great.

I'm quite interested in His Bloody Project, The Many, The Sellout, The North Water - and Serious Sweet (the plot of which would put me off if it were by most authors, but I like A.L. Kennedy). Not sure I'll have time for much, but it's also price dependent.

I also put one of the longlist on hold at the library a few days ago, although I'm not super keen on the book and definitely wouldn't read it otherwise - perhaps inspired by a friend who won quite a bit of money on a leave referendum vote; he was a remain campaigner and the bet was meant to cushion the blow personally if they lost.


message 35: by Jibran (new)

Jibran (marbles5) | 289 comments I wanted to start with J.M. Coetzee's novel, because he's a familiar voice, but the novel isn't even out. Remind me the cut-off date please. It seems they just squeezed him in.

He's the only author on the list with a previous Booker right? I like it that way: more new writers.


message 36: by Antonomasia (last edited Jul 28, 2016 06:08AM) (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments 30th Sept. https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/9...
(the official site seems now to like displaying only the rules for one prize at a time. The English language Booker rules have now disappeared, and only those for the International are showing.)

He's the only author on the list with a previous Booker right? I like it that way: more new writers.
Agreed - it's been that way for a few years now. Prediction lists full of old heavyweights like in the 90s tend to sound wide of the mark now.


message 37: by Jibran (new)

Jibran (marbles5) | 289 comments Antonomasia wrote: "30th Sept. https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/9...
(the official site seems now to like displaying only the rules for one prize at a time. The English language Book..."


Just a day before the deadline! All right, thanks.


message 38: by Carl (new)

Carl (catamite) | 137 comments Will they bring forward the release for the Coetzee? They normally do, don't they?


message 39: by Lascosas (new)

Lascosas | 456 comments The old rules (don't know if those have changed) required the publisher to make a certain number of copies commercially available within 10 days of the longlist announcement. In 2014, Us wasn't published until after it was eliminated, and no one from the Booker seemed to care. My bet is that the Coetzee still gets published in September, though maybe earlier in the month.

I hated the 2014 longlist, particularly Wake. By far my least favorite longlist.


message 40: by Antonomasia (last edited Jul 28, 2016 07:56AM) (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments Lascosas wrote: "The old rules (don't know if those have changed) required the publisher to make a certain number of copies commercially available within 10 days of the longlist announcement. In 2014, Us wasn't published until after it was eliminated, and no one from the Booker seemed to care."
Yeah, they changed it this year. Presumably publishers were fed up. (And then the judges produce a longlist 12/13 of which is already published!)

Frustrating that they remove the rules from the site now - can't link to it in support, but I did quote them in this post the other week: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 41: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments Carl wrote: "I had three right. Gosh, there are quite a few I'd never heard of. I thought the Szalay was a short story collection?"
Yes, it seemed ambiguous. Saw a post today from a GR friend mentioning that it was unfair this was considered whilst the acclaimed Pond (also linked stories) was categorised as short stories and therefore ineligible.


message 42: by Louise (last edited Jul 30, 2016 02:09PM) (new)

Louise | 224 comments Lascosas wrote: "The old rules (don't know if those have changed) required the publisher to make a certain number of copies commercially available within 10 days of the longlist announcement. In 2014, Us wasn't pub..."

Just goes to show that some years the judges match your literary tastes better than others - for me it's often quite a hit or miss experience, so some years I'll rush out and buy 6-7 books, others only 1-2


message 43: by Lascosas (new)

Lascosas | 456 comments I certainly agree that tastes differ, and I'm glad the Booker has a different panel of judges each year, bringing different flavors to the selections with them. But I say that as a reader. As a writer I might find the capriciousness of the selections a tad annoying.

But remember the Folio awards? Started to counter the anti-elitist comments of Stella R. when she chaired the Booker, that had an academy of experts, a granular system for selecting worthy judges and book selections. Results? A couple of years of completely predictable winners and then no sponsor, and no award. Turns out we all prefer the excitement of the unknown, and the ability to carp endlessly.


message 44: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1859 comments Mod
Lascosas wrote: "Turns out we all prefer the excitement of the unknown, and the ability to carp endlessly."

Ha! Excellent point that also made me laugh!


message 45: by Louise (new)

Louise | 224 comments And I love finding new (to me) exciting writers instead of "just" the big new books of the year from popular authors :-)


message 46: by Ang (new)

Ang | 1685 comments The North Water is in today's Kindle Daily Deal for 99p. (Amazon UK)


message 47: by Antonomasia (last edited Jul 31, 2016 12:13AM) (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments Ah, I just logged in to post that. It's also 99p on Kobo.
I'm hoping Sainsburys Ebooks will match it later today so I can buy it there; if not it will probably be Kobo.


message 48: by Laff (new)

Laff | 73 comments Ang wrote: "The North Water is in today's Kindle Daily Deal for 99p. (Amazon UK)"

Thanks for the tip-off. I have just bought it.


message 49: by Roland (new)

Roland Freisitzer (rolandf) | 68 comments Coetzee has obviously been brought forward to 18th of August... great news!


message 50: by Lascosas (new)

Lascosas | 456 comments Great news! Plenty of time to read it before the shortlist is announced.


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