The Booker shortlist was announced this morning:
- Tan Twan Eng, The Garden of Evening Mists (Myrmidon)
- 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 and Faber)
I can’t really judge the quality of that shortlist, because I’ve read only two of them. I very much enjoyed The Lighthouse, so I’m pleased to see it on there (my review is linked above). I read Swimming Home last year and, though I didn’t warm to it personally, enough people have praised the book since that I feel inclined to revisit it at some point.
More generally, this shortlist is an enormous vote of confidence in British independent publishers – all three of the small presses on the longlist (Myrmidon, And Other Stories, and Salt) have made it through to the final six. I think that’s great news. This also seems a shortlist that’s in favour of unconventional approaches, which is interesting.
Which novel might win? The Mantel will probably be the favourite, but it looks to me like something of an odd one out on this list. I think the Self is a more likely front-runner – though actually I wouldn’t be surprised if the Levy or Moore books took the Prize. We’ll find out when the winner is announced on Tues 16 October.
I want to mention another literary award shortlist, which was announced yesterday. The SI Leeds Literary Prize is for unpublished fiction by Black and Asian women. Its six shortlisted titles are:
- Katy Massey, The Book of Ghosts
- Emily Midorikawa, A Tiny Speck of Black and Then Nothing
- Karen Onojaife, Borrowed Light
- Minoli Salgado, A Little Dust on the Eyes
- Anita Sivakumaran, The Weekend for Sex, and other stories
- Jane Steele, Storybank: The Milkfarm Years
The winner will be revealed on Weds 3 Oct at Ilkley Playhouse, as part of Ilkley Literature Festival.