Alright, so I’ve been asleep for a week or so, dreaming up ways to destroy Jeff Bezos, so I missed the announcement of the 2009 Man Booker Prize Longlist:
The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt (Oct.’09)
Summertime by J.M. Coetzee (Jan.’10)
The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds (no date)
How To Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall (Sep.’09)
The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey (available)
Me Cheeta by James Lever (available)
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (Oct.’09)
The Glass Room by Simon Mawer (no date)
Not Untrue & Not Unkind by Ed O’Loughlin (Apr.’10)
Heliopolis by James Scudamore (no date)
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin (available)
Love and Summer by William Trevor (Sep.’09)
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (available)
Unlike last year’s list, I have not read any of these, although Brooklyn by Colm Toibin is on my shelf, as he’s well respected and several friends have had nice things to say about this latest. Some of my co-workers have liked the Sarah Waters, but as “the little stranger” appears to be a ghost, I’m going to have to pass. I’m glad to see that M.J. Hyland’s This Is How was left off the list (here’s my humble opinion of the first 168 pages) as it seemed destined for Booker infamy, not to mention that it was published by last year’s grouchy crybaby, Jamie Byng. And I’m pretty sure that Me Cheeta has been shelved erroneously in New Hardback Biography for the last six months, with no one on staff (myself included) noticing the improbability of a chimp writing their own autobiography.
Again the relative snootiness of the Booker Prize is apparent in this list – most of the titles have not been published in the States yet, thus severely limiting the interest of the American reading public, most of whom are unaware of the Booker’s significance. More annoying to me is the fact that I, as a fulltime bookseller, can’t tell you anything about most of these books, as I have never seen them myself. I understand that this is really a British award for books published in the UK over the last year, but there’s no denying the purchasing power of the American reading public, is there? I would love to read the Coetzee (sure to be the favorite), the O’Loughlin (thanks to Declan Burke for that), and maybe the William Trevor, but none have made it stateside as of yet. Compared with last year’s list, with 8 or 9 recognizable titles on the longlist and a readily available winner in Aravind Adiga, 2009 seems to be decidedly un-friendly to the US reader, if you ask me. Now comes the scramble for the pubs to change the US release dates on all these books – once again, the publishing world has their heads buried deep in the sand. Can I get any of these for my Kindle?