Every year at around this time, the Man Booker Prize Long List is published. Thirteen new fiction books, each and every one selected to push you to your limits as a reader. All with engaging titles and eye-catching covers that scream out Pick Me! Read Me!
The long list is for the real die-hards, here's what I fancy this year:
- The Many - Wyl Menmuir's novel is my top choice because it is by a first time author who had just completed a creative writing course when he wrote the book, and it was written from a campervan on the Cornish coast. It is seriously the underdog entry.
- Hot Milk - Deborah Levy. I cannot wait to read this. It explores the cross over between a daughter's over-developed sense of responsibility towards her mother, and her need to take risks and live her own life. And I love the cover.
- Serious Sweet - A.L. Kennedy's Serious Sweet sounds like just my kind of book: two characters (with all the first world flaws we know and love) find one another in London. He's a 'bankrupt accountant', she's 'shakily sober'. Together they do their best in a world intent on doing its worst.
- The Schooldays of Jesus - J.M. Coetzee. A South African-born writer who has already won the Booker prize twice. He's the heavyweight of the list. This novel (A sequel to The Childhood of Jesus) is about growing up, parenting and life choices. It's allegorical writing, so don't read too much into the cover - chances are that's not Jesus learning to pirouette at a dance school.
As I bash out this blog on the keyboard, I swear I can feel the sinking of the collective heart of all my book club ladies over the years. Long have they loathed my Man Booker choices. When pushed they will give me the 'too' list: Too weird, too literary, too boring, too obscure, too depressing. "Nonsense" I retaliate, "Man Up"!
The long list has a short life span. Soon it will be culled from this baker's dozen, to the six of the short list and finally down to the eventual winner. And at least a couple of these lovelies are sure to make it into a book group near you!
It's more exciting than rugby. No really, I'm not kidding, it is!