2012 Man Booker Prize Shortlist Announced

2012 Man Booker Prize Shortlist

If literary awards have one clear use, it's to hype up quality books, no matter how popular the author is. A high profile prize can be a feather in the cap of a literary veteran, or it can launch the career of an unknown.

One of the most reputable awards is the Man Booker, which rewards the best original novel written in the English language by a citizen of the Commonwealth Nations. Last year, they rewarded British author Julian Barnes for The Sense Of An Ending. The committee, presided over by Peter Stothard, editor of the Times Literary Supplement, recently released this year's short list.

The nominees are:

  • The Garder of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng
  • Swimming Home by Deborah Levy
  • Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
  • The Lighthouse by Alison More
  • Umbrella by Will Self
  • Narcopolis by Jeet Thayill

There sure are some surprising choices in that list, given that last year the judges were prioritizing "readability" in their selection. Will Self's novel is a prime example. It's a 400 page, chapterless, stream-of-consciousness book about a mental hospital patient. But he's not the only wildcard. Narcopolis was written by an Indian "performance poet" (not too sure how different that is from a straightforward poet) based on his experiences in Mumbai Opium Dens.

It's an agreeable surprise to find two debut novels, three independent publishers, and only two previous nominees and one previous winner, Hilary Mantel (who won in 2009 for Wolf Hall) on the list. Authors like Tan Twan Eng and Jeet Thayill, not as well known as Mantel or Self, can now put a prestigious Man Booker nomination on their resume. This should get them some much deserved attention.

Benoît Lelièvre

News by Benoît Lelièvre

Benoît Lelièvre is twenty-nine years old and lives in Montreal,Canada. His fiction has been published in Needle Magazine, Crime Factory, Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled, Shotgun Honey and The Flash Fiction Offensive, amongst others. When he's not furiously typing away, he's watching hockey, studying martial arts, consuming pop culture or kicking back with his better half and his dog. He blogs out of Dead End Follies, where he reviews books, movies and chronicles his existence.

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Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading a lot more during the quarantine September 12, 2012 - 3:03pm

I like Self. Umbrella sounds interesting. So does Narcopolis.

Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from Danville Virginia--now living outside of Albuquerque/in Minneapolis is reading Kindred, by Octavia Butler September 12, 2012 - 6:15pm

I may like "Bring Up the Bodies" even more than I liked "Wolf Hall," but I doubt they'll give it to Mantel twice.

Andrez Bergen's picture
Andrez Bergen from Melbourne, Australia + Tokyo, Japan is reading 'The Spirit' by Will Eisner September 12, 2012 - 11:50pm

Going to check out Umbrella, methinks.

Matt Pucci's picture
Matt Pucci from Milton Keynes, England is reading The Natashas, by Yelena Moskovich September 13, 2012 - 1:58am

I tried Umbrella. Wasn't ready for it at the time but Will Self is on another level in terms of his ambition and general wordsmithery...