This year’s Man Booker Prize longlist was announced today.
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, Joshua Ferris (Viking)
The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan (Chatto & Windus)
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler (Serpent’s Tail)
The Blazing World, Siri Hustvedt (Sceptre)
J, Howard Jacobson (Jonathan Cape)
The Wake, Paul Kingsnorth (Unbound)
The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell (Sceptre)
The Lives of Others, Neel Mukherjee (Chatto & Windus)
Us, David Nicholls (Hodder & Stoughton)
The Dog, Joseph O’Neill (Fourth Estate)
Orfeo, Richard Powers (Atlantic Books)
How to be Both, Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)
History of the Rain, Niall Williams (Bloomsbury)
This is the first year that all writers from the English-speaking world are eligible, which means that US writers are included. The score is four US writers, four English, two Irish, one Australian, one Indian and one Scottish. Five (Jacobson, Mitchell, Nicholls, O’Neill and Smith) have not yet been published in the UK and the Flanagan has only just been published in the UK, though has been out quite a while in Australia. I have only read one (Orfeo), which I did enjoy but did not think one of his best. The bookie William Hill has O’Neill has the favourite, followed by Mitchell and Flanagan. Given that the first two have not been published in the UK and the third only just, I am not sure how they can make this decision. Paddy Power favours Flanagan, followed by Jacobson and then, jointly, Mitchell and Mukherjee. I may well read two or three – eventually – but I am not particularly inspired by this list. Missing in action: McEwan, Self, Nicola Barker, Sarah Waters, Irvine Welsh, Teju Cole, Alan Warner, Hensher, Danielewski, Lethem, Joseph Boyden, Helen Oyeyemi, Elizabeth Gilbert, Damon Galgut, Jenny Offill and, of course, Donna Tartt.