The 2016 Man Booker Prize for Fiction – Shortlist

September 13, 2016 at 2:02 pm Leave a comment

Here it is then, the shortlist for the 2016 Man Booker Prize:

Paul Beatty – The Sellout (Oneworld)
Deborah Levy – Hot Milk (Hamish Hamilton)
Graeme Macrae Burnet – His Bloody Project (Contraband)
Ottessa Moshfegh – Eileen (Jonathan Cape)
David Szalay – All That Man Is (Jonathan Cape)
Madeleine Thien – Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Granta)

Interestingly, the only three BME authors on the longlist now make up 50% of the shortlist, which is also 50-50 male-female. That gender divide feels very stark to me. As in the world of politics, the centre ground seems to have become uninhabitable – the favoured books are either extremely masculine or very feminist.

According to the chair of the judges, Dr. Amanda Foreman, “the final six reflect the centrality of the novel in modern culture”, which is news to me.

In moving from the longlist to this shortlist, the judges have eliminated seven books, including six of the eight-and-a-half that I have already read. Memo to self: ignore the longlist next year, you know you want to.

I didn’t get round to Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh which, from the reviews I saw, I assumed to be one of the also-rans. I also didn’t fancy His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet because books about historical murders combine two genres I am not keen on, and I fear it might be as tedious as Arthur & George.

It’s possible therefore that I might be blindsided by those, as I was with Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings last year. It is also possible that the judges will be contentious enough to give the prize to a profanatory satire or a book of short stories, but I still think the choice is between Deborah Levy and Madeleine Thien.

The six shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 plus ‘a specially bound edition of their book’ (let’s hope they never have to flog that on eBay). The £50,000 winner will be announced at London’s Guildhall on Tuesday 25th October. Some of the ceremony will be broadcast one of the BBC’s lesser channels and there will be a special Man Booker Prize edition of Artsnight on BBC2 the previous Saturday.

As far as I know, there is no truth in the rumour that from 2017 coverage of the prize will be moving to Channel 4 as ‘The Great British Book Off’ presented by former autobiography-of-a-monkey-longlisting-Booker-judge Sue Perkins.

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Some thoughts on the 2016 Manhood Booker Prize longlist Man Booker’s American Sellout

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