I’m Bookin’ It

image courtesy of The Man Booker Prize, via Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ManBookerPrize)

image courtesy of The Man Booker Prize, via Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ManBookerPrize)

For whatever reason, I’m kind of obsessed with The Man Booker Prize for Fiction this year.

(Maaaaayyyyyybe it has something to do with being an avid reader and working here at the Library. I mean, I’m just sayin’.)

If you’re not familiar with The Man Booker Prize, here are Ten Things You Need to Know:

1. It’s a literary prize that “is recognized as the touchstone for high quality literary fiction written in English,” according to its website.

2. Before this year, authors were eligible if they were a citizen of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. Now, the prize is open to authors “writing originally in English and published in the UK” which means American authors are qualified. It also explains why you may have heard a bit more about The Man Booker Prize this year.

3. Also according to The Man Booker Prize website, “judges are chosen from a wide range of disciplines, including critics, writers and academics, but also poets, politicians and actors, all with a passion for quality fiction.”

4. The name has nothing to do with men or women and, as with many things these days, everything to do with a sponsorship.  The prize is sponsored by The Man Group, an investment management firm.

Man Group + Booker Prize = The Man Booker Prize.

Even I can do that math word problem.

5. The CEO of The Man Group is named Manny.

6. For real. I’m not kidding about #5.

7. A longlist of 13 titles was selected in July.

image courtesy of The Man Booker Prize, via Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ManBookerPrize)

image courtesy of The Man Booker Prize, via Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ManBookerPrize)

8. They were:

Author (nationality)                  Title 

Joshua Ferris (American)             To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

Richard Flanagan (Australian)     The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Karen Joy Fowler (American)       We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves 

Siri Hustvedt (American)              The Blazing World 

Howard Jacobson (British)           J  (scheduled for publication on 10/14/2014)

Paul Kingsnorth (British)             The Wake

David Mitchell (British)                 The Bone Clocks

Neel Mukherjee (British)              The Lives of Others 

David Nicholls (British)                 Us 

Joseph O’Neill (Irish/American)  The Dog

Richard Powers (American)          Orfeo  

Ali Smith (British)                          How to be Both

Niall Williams (Irish)                     History of the Rain 

9. From that baker’s dozen, the judges whittled the list down to six titles.

10. Which are these:

image courtesy of The Man Booker Prize, via www.themanbookerprize.com

image courtesy of The Man Booker Prize, via http://www.themanbookerprize.com

Author (nationality)                     Title 

Joshua Ferris (US)                            To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

Richard Flanagan (Australian)        The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Karen Joy Fowler (US)                      We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Howard Jacobson (British)               (…yep, still not scheduled to be published until 10/14/2014)

Neel Mukherjee (British)                 The Lives of Others

Ali Smith (British)                             How to be Both

History of the RainHere’s the thing. As intrigued as I am with The Man Booker Prize, I’ve only read one contender: History of the Rain by Niall Williams, which was absolutely outstanding. (A bit slow-going in the beginning parts, but stay with it. Trust me on this.)  It’s a good thing I’m not a gambler – or a different kind of bookie – because I was telling everyone who would listen that History of the Rain was definitely going to be the winner. It had me from the second paragraph:

“We are our stories. We tell them to stay alive or keep alive those who only live now in the telling. That’s how it seems to me, being alive for a little while, the teller and the told.” (pg. 1) 

How can anyone who loves books and reading not love that quote?

Joshua Ferris has been getting some criticism that his work isn’t perhaps quite up to snuff for The Booker, but I disagree. I loved The Unnamed (which should come with Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere” as a soundtrack) as well as Then We Came to the End, about a group of dysfunctional coworkers barely hanging on to their jobs and sanity as they manage to survive life in an Chicago advertising agency experiencing a “downturn” in business, thanks to the dot com bust. (Dated? Somewhat. But I read all 250 pages in one sitting, so there’s that.) Almost anything by Joshua Ferris tends to make it onto my TBR (To Be Read) list, so The Booker is just an added impetus.

I was – and still am – intrigued by the premise of Orfeo, and even though it’s out of my usual reading genre, I’m willing to give The Narrow Road to the Deep North a try. And I’m especially interested to read We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, because I really like the title and because it sounds like something I’d enjoy. (And because it’s my pick for the winner.)

Basically, I want to read ALL of these – the longlist, the shortlist, every book that has been nominated and won The Booker since its inception – RIGHT NOW ALREADY before the prize announcement is made October 16.  Now, I’m somewhat of a realistic, pragmatic person, with the exception of being able to determine how many books I can read before they’re due back to the Library.  But even I know that with The Man Booker Prize announcement being less than a month away and not having the luxury of reading 24/7, that’s not happening.

That’s where you come in.

Have you read any of The Man Booker Prize longlisted or shortlisted titles for this year?

If so, which ones did you enjoy most? Were you surprised by any on the list?

And what book do you think will be the winner?

~ Melissa F.

6 Comments

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6 responses to “I’m Bookin’ It

  1. Reblogged this on dprincesenablog and commented:
    show it all,if you can!

  2. Editor’s note: the shortlisted titles which do not yet appear in the library catalog are on order – two of the three have October release dates, and one is so popular it’s currently on back order – but we will prevail! Keep an eye out.

    Leigh Anne

  3. I’ve only read The Lives of Others and loved it ! So hoping it will win :)

  4. Reblogged this on A Few Busy Nothings and commented:
    I’m currently reading To Rise Again At A Decent Hour (which is rather good so far!), and have got The Bone Clocks, Us, and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves on ‘standby’ on my shelf!

  5. Pingback: And the winner is … | Eleventh Stack

  6. Pingback: Yet Another Best Of List | Eleventh Stack

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