The Man Booker Prize longlist has been announced. The books are:
Nicola Barker, “The Yips” (Fourth Estate); Ned Beauman, “The Teleportation Accident” (Sceptre); André Brink, “Philida” (Harvill Secker); Tan Twan Eng, “The Garden of Evening Mists” (Myrmidon Books); Michael Frayn, “Skios” (Faber & Faber); Rachel Joyce, “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” (Doubleday); Deborah Levy, “Swimming Home” (And Other Stories); Hilary Mantel, “Bring Up the Bodies” (Fourth Estate); Alison Moore, “The Lighthouse” (Salt); Will Self, “Umbrella” (Bloomsbury); Jeet Thayil, “Narcopolis” (Faber & Faber); and Sam Thompson, “Communion Town” (Fourth Estate).
Five of the books are available in the U.S.: Mantel’s, Frayn’s, Joyce’s, Thayil’s, and Thompson’s. I have Mantel’s.
The novel I’m most interested in is Will Self’s Umbrella. I’m one of his fans, and once drove 100 miles to see him give a reading: he canceled. Oh, well.
I very much liked his satire on smoking, The Butt. His new book won’t be published in the U.S. till 2013, but here’s a quote from the description at Amazon UK:
Recently having abandoned his RD Laing-influenced experiment in running a therapeutic community – the so-called Concept House in Willesden – maverick psychiatrist Zack Busner arrives at Friern Hospital, a vast Victorian mental asylum in North London, under a professional and a marital cloud. …then he encounters Audrey Dearth, a working-class girl from Fulham born in 1890 who has been immured in Friern for decades.,,, [and fell] victim to the encephalitis lethargica sleeping sickness epidemic at the end of the First World War…”
This year we’re a little less interested in the longlist than usual. My husband wants to read Andre Brink’s new novel (not published anywhere yet), and I am interested in Nicola Barker’s The Yips (I loved Darkmans and Clear).
But we’re not going on a shopping spree. We’ll get them from the library. Why?
1. Last year we were dismayed by the judges’ choices. My husband said Half Blood Blues was THE WORST BOOK HE EVER READ. I was quite disappointed in a couple of them, too, but I loved Alan Hollinghurst’s The Stranger’s Child and Sebastian Barry’s On Canaan’s Side.
2. I’m not even British. We declared independence in 1776, and thus are not eligible for the Prize.
3. Oh, dear–I bought so many good books in July that I have a backlog.
4. After last year’s choices, I prefer not reading OTHER people’s choices.
That said, the Booker announcement is still the event of the summer.:)