Man Booker Prize longlist 2015

I admit defeat. I am clearly not skilled in the art of book prize predictions. When the Man Booker prize judges announced their 2015 longlist today I found that none of the titles that came up in my crystal ball yesterday made the cut. Not one. I had floated briefly with nominating one of the titles that did get chosen: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Not that I’ve read it yet (I’m planning to take it with me on holiday in a few weeks) but it has been getting a lot of exposure recently and sounded like the kind of novel the judges would choose.

My reactions to the list are rather mixed.

On the plus side I was relieved that Kazuo Ishiguro and Kate Atkinson were not listed but disappointed that Colm Tóibín didnt get get selected.

On the plus side I’m delighted that the list contains so many authors that are new to me. But the diversity seems to have dissipated. Last year there were no long listed titles from the Commonwealth countries but five from USA. This year we have five USA authors again but only one each from Jamaica, New Zealand and India.

  • Did You Ever Have a Family (Jonathan Cape) by Bill Clegg, a literary agent from USA. This is his debut novel
  • The Green Road (Jonathan Cape) by Anne Enright. The Dublin-born author is a previous Booker Prize winner with The Gathering in 2007
  • A Brief History of Seven Killings (Oneworld Publications) by Marlon James, born in Kingston, Jamaica
  • The Moor’s Account (Periscope, Garnet Publishing) by Laila Lalami, born in Morocco and now living in USA. This novel was shortlisted for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize
  • Satin Island (Jonathan Cape) by Tom McCarthy, a Londoner
  • The Fishermen (ONE, Pushkin Press) by Chigozie Obioma, Nigerian born now living in North America. This is his first novel
  • The Illuminations (Faber & Faber) by Andrew O’Hagan, the Scottish born author is a previous Booker shortlisted author with Our Fathers, in 1999
  • Lila (Virago) by Marilynne Robinson, winner of the Pulitzer prize in 2005 for Gilead
  • Sleeping on Jupiter (MacLehose Press, Quercus) by Anuradha Roy, born in Calcutta, India
  • The Year of the Runaways (Picador) by Sunjeev Sahota, born in Derbyshire, UK.
  • The Chimes (Sceptre) by Anna Smaill, a New Zealander. This is her debut novel
  • A Spool of Blue Thread (Chatto & Windus) by Anne Tyler, American born, previously nominated for a Pulitzer prize
  • A Little Life (Picador) by Hanya Yanagihara, the second novel by this American author

Im not sure I’ll get to read many of these before the shortlist is announced on October 13.  My interest is leading towards The Year of the Runaways, The Illuminations and The Fishermen. 

For other views on the list take a look at:

PJE’s Booker Blog

Clare at Word by Word



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 July 29, 2015, in African authors, New Zealand authors, Nigerian authors, Scottish authors and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 35 Comments.

  1. When I saw the list I giggled and thought of your predictions. Time to upgrade your crystal ball? 😉

  2. I got three (The Green Road, Lila, A Little Life). I like how diverse the books are for this year so I guess that’s a great advantage of opening the award to all English language novels published in the UK.

    I’d like to see my three guesses plus Tom McCarthy, Marlon James, and Chigozie Obioma in the shortlist.

    • once again we have the frustrating experience of trying to get books on the longlist that haven’t yet been published. I’m going to have trouble getting Chigozie Obioma I think

  3. I haven’t read any of these, but I would particularly love to read the Marilynne Robinson, and Anne Tyler. There are some there I’ve not heard of from countries I’ve read little of. They’d interest me too, but I doubt, in the short term at least, that I’ll read any of these. (BTW thanks for the list – I was travelling AND involved in health sagas for friends and family members so the Booker announcement whisked in front of my eyes for a second and disappeared again without my stopping to investigate).

    • I’ve just finished The Illuminations – very enjoyable though I don’t think it will win. Of the others I’m looking forward to opening The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

      • Yes, that sounded interesting. I’ve read very little African literature. Bits over the years, and much of that by white or Anglo Africans. It’s an area I’d like to read more.

  4. Hi. In post list you say Anne Tyler ‘previously nominated for a Pulitzer prize’ This is true, she has been several times, but she also won in 1988 for her novel, ‘Breathing Lessons’. I’d disagree with @Anokatony that Spool is her worst book, although would agree it’s not her best (then again authors often win awards for books that aren’t their best).

  5. I haven’t read any of this year’s list. I’m most interested in Obioma (I have a copy of The Fishermen), Enright, Smaill and Sahota. I think my money would be on Yanagihara to take the prize.

  6. My reactions were quite similar to yours, quite disappointed with the longlist. I’ve read four of the longlisters, and think that three of them do not belong on the longlist: Satin Island, Lila, and ‘A Spool of Blue Thread’ I love Anne Tyler, but ‘Spool’ is her weakest work. The only longlister that I considered quite good was ‘The Green Road’ but I’m still not sure that is good enough to take the prize.
    I would not have been disappointed if ‘The Buried Giant’ made the list, because I liked it a lot. I wish they could include story collections, because ‘Honeydew’ by Edith Pearlman is the best new book I’ve read this year. I also do believe those two popular favorites Kate Atkinson and Rachel Joyce are hugely underrated by Booker.

    • You’re reaction is far more considered than mine since its actually based on reading some of these titles. Re why some popular authors are not visible….If you remember a few years ago the judges said their choice of the shortlist was based on readibility – that brought a significant negative reaction since people interpreted that as dumbing down the prize. hence why last year they changed to using ‘re-readibility’ as a factor

  7. I actually really like this year’s list. Although there are a number of American authors, they aren’t your typical american authors, other than Robinson. A number of these books were already on my TBR and I still look forward to reading them.

  8. Thanks for posting te list. Interesting. Not that I tried to predict anything but I’m also surprised about some choices.

    • which ones surprised you Caroline?

      • Laila Lalami surprised me the most. I’ve got one of her earlies books and started reading it a while ago. It’s not bad but I found the style very simple.
        I’m also surprised about the diversity. Nigeria, New Zealand, Jamaica, Canada . . . I can’t remember ever seen a list liek that. Or did I just not pay enough attention?

  9. Women in translation sounds interesting, if I find anything on my bookshelf fitting that bill I might join you. I do like the way the Booker gives debut authors a chance

  10. It doesn’t really change my reading plans, as I’m planning to join those reading #WomenInTranslation during August, but my initial impression was quite positive about the longlist, possibly because I am attracted by literature that comes from outside the traditional anglo/american tradition.

    The Booker Prize tries to promote less commerical (usually literary) fiction and push it into the mainstream and a number of those authors are now very well known, not that they shouldn’t be nominated because of that, but equally there are so many lesser known talented writers out there and I think this list does a good time of bringing some of those to our attention.

    Thank you kindly for sharing the link to my one sentence book summaries.

  11. An interesting mix I’ve not read any but have read a couple of writers on the list other books Anne Tyler for example who is underrated IMHO

    • I’ve not read her at all Stu. She is a little more of a ‘popular’ author than some of the other choices (not that it should rule her out, just making an observation)

  12. A lot of them seem to center on the family and family issues.

  13. I’m as bewildered as you are on the absence of the Ghosh and the Toibin (and WHERE is Sarah Hall’s brilliant The Wolf Border?)! I’m also quite surprised that The Buried Giant wasn’t nominated, although probably just as relieved as you are. It’s still a bit of an oddity that the judges didn’t at least nod to it, though…

  14. I haven’t seen anyone whose predictions were that close to the actual list. It’s interesting because I haven’t followed the long list books before this year so I actually thought that the list was fairly diverse both in topics covered and author’s backgrounds. However, I wasn’t comparing it with past years so maybe you noticed a decrease in diversity.

    • We did have some more diversity in the past – this years was better than last in that respect but I’m still wondering why we had nothing from Australia

  15. I’m looking forward to reading A Little Life too. I didn’t really enjoy The Buried Giant so I’m not too surprised it missed out (if it was even submitted at all).

    • I’m confident Ishiguro would have been nominated but surprised it didn’t at least make the longlist given the amount of attention it had on its publication. Perhaps thats an indication the judges are not swayed by the author’s overall status and reputation and do genuinely look at the merits of the book itself. I’m delighted if that is the case…

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