We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

The Man Booker Prize

I have not followed the Man Booker prize before, or any literature prize prior to my enjoyment of reading this year’s Women’s Prize for fiction. As with the Woman’s Prize I am going to try and read the shortlist before the winner is announced in October. The short list won’t be announced till September, so right now I am playing guesswork. I find it disappointed that there are only three female authors on the longlist, and only two woman on the all white judging panel. I could reflect on this further, however, Naomi sums my feelings perfectly. Especially in regards to the argument put forward that this is about great fiction, not positive discrimination.  Which, when reading Naomi’s post, you can’t help but question.

Frustrations aside, I am excited to read quite a few of the books on the longlist, which is as follows:

  1. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler
  2. The Blazing World, Siri Hustvedt
  3. How to be Both, Ali Smith
  4. To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, Joshua Ferris
  5. The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan
  6. J, Howard Jacobson
  7. The Wake, Paul Kingsnorth
  8. The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell
  9. The Lives of Others, Neel Mukherjee
  10. Us, David Nicholls
  11. The Dog, Joseph O’Neill
  12. Orfeo, Richard Powers
  13. History of the Rain, Niall Williams

I was surprised by the addition of David Nicholls, as a big fan of One Day I am excited to read it. First on my to-read list are The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt, History of the Rain by Niall Williams, and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. For no other reason that they interested me, and they are published. I’m not sure I can sit patiently and wait till September for either Nicholls book or The Bone Clock by David Mitchell. With their nominations I wonder their publication dates will be pulled forward.

 What are your thoughts on the Man Booker prize?


14 thoughts on “The Man Booker Prize

  1. I was disappointed to see there were only three women on the longlist too. I haven’t read any of the books on the longlist yet – I think I’ll probably read We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves first because I’ve read good reviews. It’s a shame that some of the books aren’t published yet! Looking forward to reading your thoughts on the books.


    1. I’ll be posting my first reviewon History of the Rain tomorrow, it was good, but not what I expected from a Booker long lister. I’m looking forward to We are all Completely Beside Ourselves now, hoping for good things.


  2. I’m so far behind, I’m still catching up with the 2009 longlist 🙂 Some really good writers on the list, though, so I’m sure you’ve got some great reading experiences ahead of you between now and October, Alice!


    1. I certainly hope so! One down so far and it was good, but not a ground breaking read I expected from the Booker prize. Hopefully the rest will surprise me.


  3. I’m disappointed with that lack of women and the lack of diversity, but there do seem to be more readable books than some years. And I’m particularly pleased to see Niall Williams, whose writing I love.


    1. You’re right Fleur, there is a distinct lack of diversity too. But, as you’ve said perhaps it’s a more readable list. History of the Rain was certainly readable, although not what I expected to be nominated. I’ll definitely want to read some of his other books now though, I can see why you love his writing.


  4. I gave up on literary prizes when I realised that they are just marketing campaigns. I did try and read the Booker shortlist a few years ago but most of the books that year were fairly ordinary and some were downright disappointing. I don’t like the idea of the Booker being open to Americans authors. I think publishers just want to use the prize for publicity in the UK. Literary prize culture is fairly warped, if you ask me. It’s more about selling the writer to the public and building his or her ‘brand’ to enhance sales of current and future books than it is about rewarding excellence in writing. Good luck with your reading. I hope there are some decent books in this crop of nominees.


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