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Booker Prize for Fiction > 2019 Booker Shortlist Discussion

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message 1: by Antonomasia (last edited Sep 03, 2019 07:29AM) (new)

Antonomasia | 1844 comments Mod
The Testaments (The Handmaid's Tale, #2) by Margaret Atwood Margaret Atwood (Canada), The Testaments (Vintage, Chatto & Windus)
[UK & US publication 10th Sept]

Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann Lucy Ellmann (USA/UK), Ducks, Newburyport (Galley Beggar Press)

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo Bernardine Evaristo (UK), Girl, Woman, Other (Hamish Hamilton)

An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria), An Orchestra of Minorities (Little Brown)

Quichotte by Salman Rushdie Salman Rushdie (UK/India), Quichotte (Jonathan Cape)

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak Elif Shafak (UK/Turkey), 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World (Viking)

The winner is announced on the evening of Monday 14th October.


message 2: by Tommi (last edited Sep 03, 2019 02:13AM) (new)

Tommi | 261 comments While the event is still on, official shortlist video posted on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PTg_...


message 3: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 1874 comments Mod
Lanny seems the most surprising omission


message 4: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 1844 comments Mod
Hugh wrote: "Lanny seems the most surprising omission"

Yes, very.


message 5: by Hugh (last edited Sep 03, 2019 02:27AM) (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 1874 comments Mod
Delighted to see Ducks - still a strong list even without Porter, Luiselli and Levy


message 6: by Gumble's Yard (new)

Gumble's Yard And Testaments and GWO the least surprising.


message 7: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Pool | 499 comments Booker goes properly international with its shortlist


message 8: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 1844 comments Mod
Did anyone get 6/6 on the predictions?


message 9: by Cristiano (new)

Cristiano | 22 comments Wow... None of my top 3 are included, which were Levy, Porter and Luiselli.


message 10: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rmtb) | 6 comments So disappointed Lanny isn’t there


message 11: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Pool | 499 comments Hard to take issue with the shortlist. Last year there was a collective intake of breath as the great longlist gave way to a flat shortlist. This year it strikes me that there's something for everybody, even if individual favourites are absent.
The security, for any event where all the authors are present should be interesting with Atwood, Rushdie and Shafak in the same room.


message 12: by Laura (new)

Laura (lvhitch) | 5 comments I too was disappointed at Lanny's omission. But excited that I haven't reached a single one that actually made the list! A lot of work ahead for me. My father picks the one he dislikes the most to end up winning (he has 4 years running currently!) - that's a vote for Ducks this year. His favourite is Girl, Woman, Other which unfortunately is not a good omen for Evaristo.


message 13: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 1874 comments Mod
Antonomasia wrote: "Did anyone get 6/6 on the predictions?"
No, Paul got 5, another 11 of us got 4, all but three of the rest got 3


message 14: by Marc (new)

Marc Nash (sulci) | 11 comments The two biggest names are on there which isn't surprising to my mind. The Booker probably seeking a bit of stardust and glitz for this year after losing their sponsor and Anna Burns' (admirable) reluctance to put herself in the limelight following her win last year.

Are these two books any good? Don't know, like many I haven't read them.

Disappointed Luiselli didn't make the cut. A far superior novel to "10 Mins 38 Secs"


message 15: by Paul (last edited Sep 03, 2019 02:30AM) (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 3780 comments Cristiano wrote: "Wow... None of my top 3 are included, which were Levy, Porter and Luiselli."

Agreed- those are the only three I had as worthy winners, don't think any of those left are really Booker prize worthy.

It was the list I expected (5/6 although I let me heart tell me Luiselli would make it and I really didn't expect to see Rushdie). But not the list I wanted.

Oh well, soon time for the Goldsmiths - where Levy and Porter will likely reappear.


message 16: by Marc (new)

Marc Nash (sulci) | 11 comments Jonathan wrote: "Hard to take issue with the shortlist. Last year there was a collective intake of breath as the great longlist gave way to a flat shortlist. This year it strikes me that there's something for every..."

Ha! I felt last year's prize shortlisted rescued a really flat long list and was so delighted 'Milkman' won it.


message 17: by Tommi (new)

Tommi | 261 comments With Luiselli and Porter omitted, Ellmann takes spot #1. Keeping my thumbs up for her.

I guess this mean it’s time to pick up that abandoned copy of Obioma and finish it finally, and wait for copies of Atwood and Rushdie from the city library, though it might take months.


message 18: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 3780 comments Marc wrote: "Jonathan wrote: "Hard to take issue with the shortlist. Last year there was a collective intake of breath as the great longlist gave way to a flat shortlist. This year it strikes me that there's so..."

Yes wasn't the intake of breath 2017 - as GY has pointed out most the books omitted at shortlist stage went on to win another major award.


message 19: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Pool | 499 comments Paul wrote: " don't think any of those left are really Booker prize worthy..."

Classic Paul.
Three internationally acclaimed authors spreading the written world to new audiences. A small, innovative press, a gender/feminist book suited to our times.
Whats not to like?

Don't worry, there's only just over a month to go and it will all be over.


message 20: by Gumble's Yard (new)

Gumble's Yard Cristiano I was the same as you. They weren’t top 3 but only Lanny I though had a strong chance.

This is a very good solid list though. Omits my clear bottom 3 also.

Jonathan not sure I agree on last year (which is a polite way of saying I entirely disagree). I think the majority view here was the exact opposite - the very odd genre choices (which made us think the leaked longlist was a wind up) dropped and to our surprise the most exciting book Milkman included. Two years ago was when the shortlist choice was bizarre as proved by the success all the omitted books achieved in other awards.

But your International point is a very good one. The judges and Booker organisers made a big think of the longlist showing the universality of English in their press releases around the longlist and have largely followed through here. The surprise is perhaps that Luiselli did not make it in that respect.


message 21: by Robert (new)

Robert | 963 comments Hugh wrote: "Delighted to see Ducks - still a strong list even without Porter, Luiselli and Levy"

I agree totally


message 22: by But_i_thought_ (new)

But_i_thought_ (but_i_thought) | 14 comments I am gutted Lanny and Lost Children Archive did not make the list. I would happily swap out 10 Minutes and Orchestra of Minorities for those two. And Atwood and Rushdie seem really predictable choices.

While I really enjoyed Girl, Woman, Other, but it did not reach the heights of Lanny and Lost Children for me.

And I'm still slogging my way through Ducks...


message 23: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 3780 comments Rushdie instead of Luiselli is my one surprise, not least as he actually seems not to have such a favourable international profile (at least based on the comments on the Quichotte thread from non British readers).


message 24: by Emily (new)

Emily M | 23 comments Bah. I was looking forward to reading Ducks, Luiselli and Levy "when they were shortlisted." I think I'm just going to ignore the shortlist and stick with that plan.

A shame about Lanny. I personally liked Porter's first book more, but I think he's doing wonderful things to revitalize what a mainstream literary book can look like, and it would have been nice to have a winner that had literary value, some experimentation and popular appeal.


message 25: by Emma (new)

Emma (keeperofthearchives) | 4 comments The only one I'm surprised by is Ducks but I've seen one great reviews for it on GR as well as in the press ...


message 26: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 3780 comments Jonathan wrote: "Paul wrote: " don't think any of those left are really Booker prize worthy..."
...
Whats not to like?"


, the fact that the small innovative press has published a mind-numbingly boring book, the fact that Rushdie and Atwood's books will sell irrespective of Booker prize listing so their inclusion is more around boosting the prize, the fact that most of the genuinely innovative books on the list (Levy, Porter, Luiselli, and Barry) were omitted

(and 19,393 other things omitted for lack of space)

I am though pleased to see Girl Woman Other (just wish I could have placed a bet on it several months ago when I first read it) and hope to see it win


message 27: by Emma (new)

Emma (keeperofthearchives) | 4 comments Gumble's Yard wrote: "Cristiano I was the same as you. They weren’t top 3 but only Lanny I though had a strong chance.

This is a very good solid list though. Omits my clear bottom 3 also.

Jonathan not sure I agree o..."


Lanny seems to be the main book people are talking about as having 'missed out' so far. I haven't read it yet but this reaction is certainly making me want to.


message 28: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 1874 comments Mod
Emma wrote: "The only one I'm surprised by is Ducks but I've seen one great reviews for it on GR as well as in the press ..."

I don't remember seeing you here before, so welcome to the group!


message 29: by Emma (new)

Emma (keeperofthearchives) | 4 comments Hugh wrote: "Emma wrote: "The only one I'm surprised by is Ducks but I've seen one great reviews for it on GR as well as in the press ..."

I don't remember seeing you here before, so welcome to the group!"


Sorry, Hugh!! I should have posted in the welcome section first. I'm friends with a few members and saw this discussion and couldn't resist seeing what you all thought of the shortlist.


message 30: by Sam (new)

Sam | 505 comments Diversity gets the nod for this shortlist and women outnumber the men. Lanny's exclusion may just have been because the author fits the wrong demographics. The listing of Obioma and Evaristo both being listed is a surprise.


message 31: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 1874 comments Mod
Sam wrote: "Diversity gets the nod for this shortlist and women outnumber the men. Lanny's exclusion may just have been because the author fits the wrong demographics. The listing of Obioma and Evaristo both b..."
Evaristo did not surprise many of us - just look at the predictions!


message 32: by Gumble's Yard (new)

Gumble's Yard As a group we all (mainly due to Paul’s identification of a very strong thematic link with one judge) have been predicting GWO as a possible winner since before even the longlist. But I think it’s a surprise to others - it certainly had I think the least attention of the long listed books generally


message 33: by But_i_thought_ (new)

But_i_thought_ (but_i_thought) | 14 comments I think the M&G shortlist prediction would have made a much stronger list:

Ducks, Newburyport
Girl, Woman, Other
Lanny
Lost Children Archive
The Man Who Saw Everything
The Testaments


message 34: by Sam (new)

Sam | 505 comments Hugh wrote: "Sam wrote: "Diversity gets the nod for this shortlist and women outnumber the men. Lanny's exclusion may just have been because the author fits the wrong demographics. The listing of Obioma and Eva..."

Hugh wrote: "Sam wrote: "Diversity gets the nod for this shortlist and women outnumber the men. Lanny's exclusion may just have been because the author fits the wrong demographics. The listing of Obioma and Eva..."

Not surprised by the quality but that the two authors have Nigerian connections.


message 35: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 1874 comments Mod
Evaristo's book is one of the most British on the list!


message 36: by Gumble's Yard (new)

Gumble's Yard I messaged a few people last night but forgot to post to this group. For me as well as if they would follow through on the International angle (they largely did) the interesting aspect of this shortlist was going to be the age / experience angle.

Recent judges have made quite a thing of promoting young and debut authors - perhaps in many cases a little too early. This long list though had a lot of very experienced authors - I made it 6 authors over 60 all of whom had been publishing novels for something like 25 years at least.

Of those I think four made the list - Rushdie, Atwood, Ellmann, Evaristo. Winterson and Levy were the two who missed out.

That’s a very experienced shortlist.


message 37: by Gumble's Yard (new)

Gumble's Yard I was so excited about the shortlist discussions that I just went to board a plane about 45 minutes ago and realised I had left my suitcase in the lounge (which was in a completely different set of gates) as was using both my hands to post to this group, tweet etc.

Managed to persuade crew to let me run back to the lounge and just made it in time before they were closing the plane.

I blame the Booker!!!!!


message 38: by Tom (new)

Tom | 69 comments I’m certainly bummed about Lanny and Lost Children Archive missing out. Those were my top 2. But I’m also excited that I’ve yet to read 3 of the shortlisted books and still working through Ducks.

Obioma is the book I was most torn on. I ranked it something like 5 or 6 when I first finished it and gave it 4 stars. Then the more I thought back on it the further it dropped in my ranking and I changed my rating to 3 stars. I may have to re-read that one.


message 39: by Gumble's Yard (new)

Gumble's Yard Sadly I found Obiama weaker on a re read - the only book of which that was true of the 9 I re read. That’s why this is the only surprise for me.


message 40: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 3780 comments I am pleased (and not at all surprised as per prediction thread) to see the Obiama, more because of a point made by someone on the longlist ranking thread I think. It, as well as Freshwater and (although very different) the Ocean Vuong book all do seem to be explicitly challenging the traditional western worldview / style of narrative, and it is nice to have a representative of that on the list, even if a flawed one.

That said it isn't without its flaws.


message 41: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 1874 comments Mod
That Obioma was 10th on my longlist rankings was a reflection of the overall consistency of the longlist - I still gave it 4 stars - in fact The Wall was the only one I reduced to 3. So yes, I was disappointed to lose both Lanny and Lost Children Archive, but not hugely surprised - LCA seems to have divided opinion and had already missed the cut in the Women's Prize, and Lanny doesn't seem to have gone down as well outside the UK - its political content is quite subtle and could easily be missed by those not familiar with the nuances.

To be honest I am most surprised that Rushdie made the cut - there is no way this is his best novel since he was last shortlisted for The Moor's Last Sigh. Shafak and Obioma are both good for the geographic diversity of the prize.


message 42: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 3780 comments Must admit I missed the subtlety of the politics in Lanny as well, even though I love it.

On Rushdie - yes it was the one I assumed would not make it, but as GY has pointed two of the judges are a former publisher of his and someone who has featured him at his literary festival. It's an interesting jury with a mixture of traditional and new, and that I suspect has played out in the list.


message 43: by Gumble's Yard (new)

Gumble's Yard The judges seem to have focused on events in the US despite having picked a longlist seen as (*) largely devoid of US authors.

(*) a little complex as the one author listed as being American has lived in The UK for 50 years while others including Rushdie are US citizens.

Three of the six books are I suspect really addressing issues in today’s US - I am assuming Atwood will make the third. On that basis Rushdie fits.

It is perhaps more surprising that given the day of the announcement and what is happening in the UK today (plus the chance that a UK General election might coincide with the winner announcement) that they did not pick Lanny or The Wall.

We should not forget the judge links either - even before the longlist and purely based on looking at the judges we had speculated that three of these books would have a good chance.

I suspect Calder who has known Rushdie since loading with him and before publishing his first ever novel (a flop for both of them before the rather spectacular success of their second collaboration) thinks she can judge the strength of his books better than we can.


message 44: by Sam (new)

Sam | 505 comments Labelling can be a problem as GY pointed out. Proponents of Nigerian fiction claim Evaristo due to her having a Nigerian father despite her British origins. Nigeria isn't a very big place in this world and yet the fiction has been some of the trendiest in literary fiction. I often see her listed as a UK/Nigerian author. I do not know if she actually has dual citizenship.


message 45: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 1874 comments Mod
Sam wrote: "Labelling can be a problem as GY pointed out. Proponents of Nigerian fiction claim Evaristo due to her having a Nigerian father despite her British origins. Nigeria isn't a very big place in this w..."
The blurb on the hardback mentions Nigeria, one of the 12 main characters is Nigerian, and another (her daughter) is half-Nigerian. Most of the book is set in Britain, though there are small sections set in Nigeria, the U.S.A. and the Caribbean.


message 46: by Neil (new)

Neil | 1163 comments It feels like several books have missed out (I would have loved to see the Levy book progress and, in the minority I know, was rooting for the Barry).

I'm very excited to see Ducks make it to the next stage. Can a book that long that has given so many readers headaches actually win, though? I doubt it.

I am surprised at the selection of the Obioma.

What surprises me most, though, is the inclusion of Rushdie. Admittedly, I still have about 60 pages left to read, but I'm not enjoying it at all. However, I can see lots of high ratings for it it here, including from people who often like the same books as I do. Perhaps I am missing something, but I am not of a mind to go back and look for it.


message 47: by MisterHobgoblin (new)

MisterHobgoblin | 308 comments No thanks. Not a shortlist for me.


message 48: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 1844 comments Mod
Sam wrote: "Nigeria isn't a very big place in this world and yet the fiction has been some of the trendiest in literary fiction. ."

But it also has the biggest economy in Africa, culturally there's the Nollywood film industry and so on - I think it's outdated to see Nigeria as insignificant in global terms.


message 49: by MisterHobgoblin (new)

MisterHobgoblin | 308 comments Nigeria has a population of 190 million. Ireland has a population of 5 million. Maybe we should expect 38 Nigerian books of note for every Irish one.


message 50: by Sam (last edited Sep 03, 2019 05:43AM) (new)

Sam | 505 comments My comments were to credit not criticize. Here's a link that covers some of Nigeria's previous Booker history.

https://brittlepaper.com/2019/08/21-a...


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