Once again, I am trying to find meaning in another meaningless literary award. (I might be a complete idiot.) The 2011 Man Booker Prize longlist was announced today - aka: The Man Booker Dozen (as the Booker people like to style it.) The nominees are:
Patrick McGuinness - The Last Hundred Days
Jane Rogers - The Testament of Jessie Lamb
D.J. Taylor - Derby Day
The board of judges this year is chaired by Stella Rimington, a B-list mystery novelist (at best) & former director general of MI5. Matthew d'Ancona, Susan Hill, Chris Mullin (the author/politician, not the retired shooting guard from the Golden State Warriors), & book critic Gaby Wood round it out. I suppose even with Rimington directing things, this is a somewhat better panel than last year (which featured a poet, a dancer, & a writer from the Financial Times.) But I have to say, the field itself looks a bit weak, compared to other years. Julian Barnes seems to me to be the early favorite, as a 3-time shortlister & a generally good chap. Then again, Alan Hollinghurst is the one who stole David Mitchell's Prize in 2004, so maybe he's the darkhorse favorite. That's right, I said "stole." Cloud Atlas vs The Line of Beauty. "The line of who?" you ask. "Exactly," I say.
I've heard great things about Sebastian Barry's book, which sits waiting on my desk as we speak. Of course, I'm pulling for Carol Birch, author of Jamrach's Menagerie (see my little blurb from the other day.) Yes, I read yet another book written by a lady! Shocking! That's FIVE for the year - and it's only July!
Anybody read any of these? Care to chime in? Does anyone even care about the Booker these days?