It’s here, pals – the
Man Booker 2019 longlist has been announced!
The full list from the Booker website, with links to Book Depository:
- Margaret Atwood (Canada), The Testaments (Vintage, Chatto & Windus)
- Kevin Barry (Ireland), Night Boat to Tangier (Canongate Books)
- Oyinkan Braithwaite (UK/Nigeria), My Sister, The Serial Killer (Atlantic Books)
- Lucy Ellmann (USA/UK), Ducks, Newburyport (Galley Beggar Press)
- Bernardine Evaristo (UK), Girl, Woman, Other (Hamish Hamilton)
- John Lanchester (UK), The Wall (Faber & Faber)
- Deborah Levy (UK), The Man Who Saw Everything (Hamish Hamilton)
- Valeria Luiselli (Mexico/Italy), Lost Children Archive (4th Estate)
- Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria), An Orchestra of Minorities (Little Brown)
- Max Porter (UK), Lanny (Faber & Faber)
- Salman Rushdie (UK/India), Quichotte (Jonathan Cape)
- Elif Shafak (UK/Turkey), 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World (Viking)
- Jeanette Winterson (UK), Frankissstein (Jonathan Cape)
So, let’s go through this:
Already read: My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite and Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli.
The two Women’s Prize titles. I’ll start with the one whose inclusion befuddles me the least: I predicted that Lost Children Archive would make the cut and it comes as zero surprise. I had a mixed experience with it (review here), but I do think it’s a very accomplished book and I completely understand the love that others have for it. My Sister, The Serial Killer… is actually the book that I liked more, of these two, but looking at some notable snubs (Ocean Vuong! Jan Carson! Colson Whitehead!) I can’t say that I understand why it made this list, other than that it appears to be the literary prize darling of the moment. Make no mistake, I think it’s a good book. But, good enough for the Booker, and better than On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous?! Hm.
Will definitely not read: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann.
I’m one of those heathens who actually hated The Handmaid’s Tale, and I also hate sequels/prequels/spin-offs of things that were originally imagined as standalones (I loved The Hunger Games in college but I have no interest in the new book; I still haven’t read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, etc), so nothing about The Testaments appeals to me. I’ll admit that I’m curious about Ducks, Newburyport, but not curious enough to read 1000 pages of like, four sentences or whatever it is, especially over a number of other books I’ve been wanting to read recently. Of these two I’m more likely to read Ducks, Newburyport eventually, but certainly not by October.
Will definitely read: Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry, Lanny by Max Porter, Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson.
Night Boat to Tangier sounds so up my alley it’s not even funny (it’s the only Irish book on this list, and I’ve heard it compared to In Bruges, which is my favorite film – say no more), UK booktube has been raving about Lanny for months and I’m not convinced that I’ll love it but I’m curious enough to give it a try, and I’ve been wanting to read Jeanette Winterson for ages, and I love Frankenstein so this seems like a good place to start.
And… the rest.
Of these I think I’m most likely to read The Man Who Saw Everything. I’m kind of curious about Girl, Woman, Other, but it’s a bit long so I’ll wait to hear some more assessments of it before making my decision. Apparently An Orchestra of Minorities has something to do with the Odyssey, so I should probably be excited about it, but I’ve heard a few too many lukewarm things. But, maybe. Sci-fi/dystopia isn’t my thing, so The Wall isn’t at the top of my list, but who knows. I didn’t even know there was a new Salman Rushdie, which makes me feel like I’ve been living on another planet, but at a glance I can’t say I’m terribly interested by it. I think the Elif Shafak sounds kind of terrible (I’m really, really not into ‘in the moments before they die’ stories), but I could probably be convinced to read it if I read enough rave reviews.
Needless to say, I will not be reading this entire longlist, which I’m actually really happy about. I’ve already publicly pledged my allegiance to Women in Translation Month, and I’m really looking forward to my TBR. I was so nervous that I was going to see a list of 13 titles that sounded super enticing to me, so I’m selfishly pleased that that’s not the case. (Also, apologies if you follow me specifically for my Booker coverage – but for my own sanity, I can’t do this every year.)
But once I take a step back from my selfish happiness over not loving this list, I must confess to being disappointed. This is certainly a list of literary heavy hitters, which makes a radical departure from the 2018 list which was filled with debuts and genre fiction, but honestly, I found myself much more inspired and intrigued by the freshness of last year’s list. This list is… about what I was expecting. There’s nothing egregiously awful about it at a glance, but there’s nothing that really excites me, either.
Also, moment of silence for The Fire Starters, hands down the best piece of fiction I’ve read so far in 2019. I guess the Booker couldn’t do Troubles Lit two years in a row?
What are your thoughts on the Booker longlist? Which titles are you most and least excited to see her? What are you planning on reading? What do you think was snubbed? Let’s talk in the comments!