The shortlist for the 2010 Booker Prize is announced today (London's today, that is), so I thought it was a good time to provide a quick overview of my progress through the longlist.
The 13 books are (with the ones I've read in bold & including links to my review post):
Peter Carey Parrot and Olivier in America
Emma Donoghue Room
Helen Dunmore The Betrayal
Damon Galgut In a Strange Room
Howard Jacobson The Finkler Question
Andrea Levy The Long Song
Tom McCarthy C
David Mitchell The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
Lisa Moore February
Paul Murray Skippy Dies
Rose Tremain Trespass
Christos Tsiolkas The Slap
Alan Warner The Stars in the Bright Sky
So, I've to date read eight of the thirteen, which I suppose isn't bad progress (given that my plan all along was to get through all 13 by the winner - not shortlist - announcement, which is in about a month). Of those eight, the ones I'd most like to make the five- or six-strong shortlist are:
The Long Song
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
I think - albeit with the obvious caveat that I've not read the remaining five - most of those are reasonably likely to make the shortlist. David Mitchell is probably safe, and I suspect Andrea Levy is too. Skippy Dies is a personal favourite, in part because it seems an unlikely Booker pick, but is actually really good. Comparing it to The Stars in the Bright Sky demonstrates the difference between a decent read and something worthy of a literary fiction award, in my opinion. Skippy Dies takes a fairly humdrum starting point and makes it great not only by featuring wonderful characterisation, but also by hinting at subtle but effective themes. The Stars in the Bright Sky, on the other hand, seems more like the inspiration for a fun but slightly shlocky tv mini-series (friends growing apart yet remaining bound together, misadventures on a holiday, drug references, one really annoying character, one really mysterious one).
So those are my hopes. Regardless of what happens with the five I've not read - and for all I know the entire shortlist will consist of those I haven't read yet - I'll try to press on through all 13 before early October. (I will prioritise those that get the nod today.)
Either way, I've enjoyed the process so far - I haven't yet hated anything completely, and have read at least two books I probably would've missed otherwise which I really enjoyed.
Hope you've enjoyed it, too, hypothetical reader/s! Has anyone got any predictions or hopes (for the Booker shortlist, not your life as a whole) of their own?