A pile of thirteen books, post-it notes everywhere, dust jackets separated from books and more than thirteen wine corks later (for me), Bellezza, Nicole, Rebecca, Teresa and I have finally arrived at a shortlist for our shadow panel for the Man Booker prize this year. There was only one book that we all picked and you see it in the image above. Here is the whole list:
Did You Ever Have A Family? by Bill Clegg
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
The Year of The Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota
Sleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy
Satin Island by Tom McCarthy
Lila by Marilynne Robinson
This list differs from my personal list by only one book. I included A Little Life on my list of six but this list replaces that lengthy accomplishment with Lila. Some of you know that I have a less than enthusiastic appreciation for Robinson's fiction, and this latest in the Gilead trilogy had me hopeful at first but then sagged tremendously in the middle where all of the old annoyances began to creep back in. But as with any group effort such as this, the dreaded "c" word is a requirement - compromise. And compromise we did.
We are all, of course, curious about what the official list will look like tomorrow. Nicole and I both loved Satin Island, but bookie chances tell us that it is unlikely that it will appear on the shortlist. The same holds for Sleeping on Jupiter and Did You Ever Have a Family. What I am really hoping for is a list that surprises us all, that signifies a shift in thinking about the prize beyond protracted conversation about the inclusion of the Americans. And a list that includes A Brief History of Seven Killings of course.