The winner of the Man Booker prize 2017 is announced in just a few hours. The Duchess of Cornwall is due make the presentation this evening. I have managed to get through the six titles on the shortlist and thought I’d give a kind of end of term report and make my prediction for the prize. I’ll list them in the order the bookies are favouring them:
Lincoln In The Bardo – George Saunders – The bookies hot favourite was just a little too odd for me both in structure and content. Latest sale figures suggest it has sold around 10,000 copies ***
Exit West– Mohsin Hamid – Also notching sales of around 10,000 this is a sparse novel which impressed but I felt it fizzled out towards the end. ****
Elmet – Fiona Mozley – A debut which was apparently partly written on the author’s phone which sounds terribly modern but this is a traditional, poetic literary novel which packs a good punch. Another one with sales figures around 10,000 ****
4321– Paul Auster – It’s just too long and with too much detail. It’s ambitious, clever and probably has the most memorable moments but it is an exhausting read. Now published in paperback which at least makes it lighter, around 15,000 people have bought this so far.****
Autumn – Ali Smith. With around 50,000 copies this is definitely the commercial hit of the bunch but the bookies place it at 8-1. I think it’s a strong contender and is the most enjoyable of Smith’s books I have read. ****
The History Of Wolves – Emily Fridlund – The Bookies outsider and my outsider as well. It just didn’t sparkle like I hoped it would. (So probably the winner then). Not really tempting the book-buying public with sales so far of around the 3.5 thousand mark. ***
Phil’s Tip For The Prize– I’m going for Elmet by Fiona Mozley.
POST ANNOUNCEMENT UPDATE– And the winner is……………….George Saunders for Lincoln In The Bardo proving once again I just cannot second-guess the Man Booker judging panel. In her summing up Baroness Lola Young, the Chair of the Panels “This really stood out because of its innovation- its very different styling and the way in which it paradoxically brought to life these not quite-dead souls in this other world.” I said in my review, with equal gravitas; “what I couldn’t get out of my head was a manic, adult version of “Rentaghost”.” So each to their own, I suppose and congratulations are certainly due to George Saunders for beating off the competition with this great award for his first full-length novel. Now it has won the prize many more will be seeking out the book. It certainly hasn’t been the biggest seller of the list to date and a copy prominently on display in one of the libraries where I have been working has been sat ever since it came in without anyone taking it home. All that will change now………Roll on, Man Booker 2018 where I will no doubt once again be barking up the wrong literary tree.