Books the Man Booker judges missed

When the judges of the Man Booker prize announce their long and short lists, you can bet there will be some surprise omissions. This year was no exception. Donna Tartt had been considered a certainty for her long awaited novel The Goldfinch which had already gained her the Pullitzer Prize. But she didn’t even make it to the long list.

That was a big mistake according to readers of The Guardian who have been taking part in the newspaper’s Not The Booker Prize “award”. Tartt has made it to the shortlist of six novels, chosen by readers although interestingly she didn’t get the hugest number of votes.

Here is the shortlist in full. I haven’t heard of any of these books before – have any of you read them? Did the Booker judges miss a trick in not including them on their award contender list? Are they more worthy winners of a literary prize than any on the current Booker long list?

Simon Sylvester – The Visitors (Quercus) with 63 votes
Donna Tartt – The Goldfinch (Little, Brown) with 39 votes
Tony Black – The Last Tiger (Cargo) with 39 votes
Louis Armand – Cairo (Equus) with 39 votes
Iain Maloney – First Time Solo (Freight books) with 37 votes
Mahesh Rao – The Smoke Is Rising (Daunt) – with 36 votes

Yiu can follow the Guardian prize selection at

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on August 26, 2014, in Book Reviews and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. I normally don’t get Pulitzer Prize winners, but I actually liked The Goldfinch a lot. It was definitely good enough to get into the longlist at least.

  2. I often prefer the books shortlisted (or longlisted) on quite a few awards. Like others I use the lists to find new authors.
    I gave up on The Goldfinch & I don’t feel unhappy that it wasn’t nominated. The beginning was fabulous – heart in your mouth kind of stuff, but it fell away pretty quickly after that. I found it a long drawn-out book full of too many co-incidences.

    I’ve just started The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell and I have to say it – bloody brilliant & I’m already calling it as my pick for this year’s Booker winner! There I’ve probably jinxed it now!

    • So many people are saying Bone Clocks is fabulous that Im now tempted to get it. The odds on him winning will likely get shorter next week if, as predicted, he makes it to the shortlist.

  3. I haven’t read any of them either, but I do agree in that some great books did not make the long list this year. But I’m also starting to lose faith in the Booker Prize. More often then not I don’t like the winner.

  4. I don’t mind that The Goldfinch was left off the Booker list at all – it’s already received plenty of exposure, and hello, a Giant literary prize. It doesn’t need additional awards. I’ve not heard of any of the others listed above, but The Visitors looks quite interesting, and I will add it to my TBR list as does First Time Solo.

    • It is a good idea to spread the wealth around but I’d it really was the best book than maybe it would be unfair to eliminate it just because it has won other prizes?

  5. The Tartt is the only one I’ve heard of, too. There have been other books that people have been surprised were passed over, but having just finished the new Sarah Waters I’m not of the party that thought that should,have been there. It’s a good page turner, but not Booker quality.

  6. Outside of The Goldfinch I’d not heard of any of the others on the Guardian Not The Booker shortlist. I’d actually voted for Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda which was one of the books on the Guardians exceptionally long longlist! Its the best book I’ve read by miles. Having said that I’ve read several good reviews of The Visitors and in following the articles about the Not Booker short listed books, I like the sound of Cairo so will be reading that when I get hold of it.

    • I will now have to take a look at The Orenda if it’s that good:). My own nomination for the Guardian list got disqualified when the booker judges went and chose it themselves – Neel Mukherjee’s The Lives of Others

  7. I have read ecstatic reviews of The Visitors

  8. I don’t think the Booker missed
    The Goldfinch. Despite winning the Pulitzer, I thought it was a terrible book, plot-wise and style-wise.

  9. I agree. We have the National Book Award, and I look to it for American writers I may not be aware of. I liked the Booker the old way for my purposes. I know it was changed to reflect the best works written in English — but I often find myself not caring so much about “best.” Very good and better are good enough for me. While I want quality, I am a fickle and am hard pressed to name the “best” of anything.

  10. Haven’t read any of the above except The Goldfinch, but I wonder about the composition of the Booker committee and how that sways choices from year to year. I believe this year’s committee is headed by a philosopher and the 2 American books I have now read from the long list — Orfeo and The Blazing World both deal with philosophy, particularly aesthetics. Both might be referred to as cerebral even as they have interesting plots. I don’t really mind that books are left off the list– it just offers me more suggestions of good books to read that I’ve never heard of. That’s how I use the Booker list — to find titles rather than confirm my opinions. I often find myself looking for something beyond the best-seller lists that include so many mediocre titles. I use the prize lists to direct me to others that may be lesser known but more worth my time. You are so lucky to have The Guardian. I could follow it more closely from here, but I just peek at it from time to time even though I’ve subscribed to the book club.

    • I also use the Booker to expose me to writers I have not heard of before which is why I’m so disappointed that few commonwealth writers got onto this years list. They get scant attention from other channels whereas the Americans will get much more I suspect.

We're all friends here. Come and join the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: