2012 Man Booker Prize Shortlist Announced
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.
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