Later today (update: scroll down for longlist) the longlist for the 2010 Man Booker Prize will be announced. The initial longlist of 13 books should result in a slight bump in sales, but then apparently TV Book clubs sell more books than a Man Booker nomination. In the run up the longlist announcement, speculation has been frantic and broad-ranging, but what was most interesting about this year, was a discussion that book place on Twitter last week. Guardian Books Editor Claire Armitstead (@carmitstead) asked her followers to take a punt on who they expected to see nominated. A large chunk of the replies suggested were books by male authors, which prompted this tweet from book blogger Rachael Beale (aka @FlossieTeacake): “Oh God, please not an all-male longlist… I might cry.” With novels like The Long Song by Andrea Levy, Miss Thing by Nora Chassler, The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell, The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon, Burley Cross by Nicola Barker, The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna, Room by Emma Donoghue, Ruby’s Spoon by Anna Lawrence Pietroni and The News Where You Are by Catherine O’Flynn eligible, does that discussion imply that the standard of books by women written in the last year wasn’t very hight? It’s certainly true of some very big name writers (and past winners, who happen to be men), like Ian McEwan, Martin Amis and Yann Martel who have all published below-par novels this year.
There’s a randomness to predicting most arts prizes, but I think we might see Jon McGregor, Tom McCarthy, Paul Murray, Andrea Levy, Joe O’Connor, Christos Tsiolkas and David Mitchell on there. Possible Irish contenders include O’Connor, Hugo Hamilton, Emma Donoghue and Paul Murray.
Where having is concerned, my outright bet would be on David Mitchell’s Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. But there’s always the cautionary tale of Joseph O’Neill. Two years ago, William Hill stopped taking bets at the longlist stage on Netherland being the overall winner and the book failed to make the shortlist. Ah yes, Julian Barnes you wily old fox, it IS “posh bingo”.
What have you read and what are you think should be on the longlist? What would you love/hate to see on there?
Update: Here’s the 2010 longlist. Congrats to all the nominees
Peter Carey Parrot and Olivier in America (Faber and Faber)
Emma Donoghue Room (Pan MacMillan – Picador)
Helen Dunmore The Betrayal (Penguin – Fig Tree)
Damon Galgut In a Strange Room (Grove Atlantic – Atlantic Books)
Howard Jacobson The Finkler Question (Bloomsbury)
Andrea Levy The Long Song
(Headline Publishing Group – Headline Review)
Tom McCarthy C (Random House – Jonathan Cape)
David Mitchell The Thousand Autumns of Zacob de Zoet (Hodder & Stoughton – Sceptre)
Lisa Moore February (Random House – Chatto & Windus)
Paul Murray Skippy Dies (Penguin – Hamish Hamilton)
Rose Tremain Trespass (Random House – Chatto & Windus)
Christos Tsiolkas The Slap (Grove Atlantic – Tuskar Rock)
Alan Warner The Stars in the Bright Sky
(Random House – Jonathan Cape)