The Man Booker Shortlist


Yesterday the shortlist for the prestigious Man Booker Prize 2016 was announced.  My aim was to get reading the longlist so that when the shortlist was announced I would not be overladen with unread books.  I am currently reading my 9th book on the longlist of 13 (“Serious Sweet” by A.L Kennedy- which did not make the shortlist- I’ll let you know my opinion soon) and have actually now already read 4 of the 6 on the shortlist.

So huge congratulations to the final six, one of which will be scooping the £50,000 top prize and will be a guaranteed best-seller.  The six who made the cut are

sellout The Sellout – Paul Beatty – The rather wonderful Oneworld Publications are aiming to make it two years in a row with this.  I concluded  “It deserves a place on the Booker shortlist but the jury might opt for something very different from last year so would be an outside chance to scoop the prize.”  Read my review of this  book here

hotmilkHot Milk – Deborah Levy -Published by Hamish Hamilton and the Bookies Favourite to win the prize.  I still haven’t managed to get my hands on a copy yet but I’ve scheduled it into the reading list.  I’ll let you know what I think.

bloodyproject His Bloody Project – Graeme McRae Burnet-Published by Contraband, a very small Scottish Publishing house I am absolutely delighted to see this on the shortlist.  I said  “This is a book which will be strongly competing for my Book Of The Year and will hopefully win over the Man Booker judges much in the same way as it has won me over. “.  Read my review of this book here

eileenEileen- Otessa Moshfegh- Published by Vintage.  I said  “It is undoubtedly well-written and Moshfegh keeps us guessing throughout…………I would be very happy to see this on the shortlist.”.  Read my review of this book here

szalay All That Man Is – David Szalay – The second book on the shortlist for Vintage.  I really enjoyed this but had some reservations about the structure of the book, saying; But is it a novel?  This obviously did not worry the judges too much.  Read my review of this book here

madelinethienDo Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thien – Published by Granta and the second of the two not to make it yet onto my reading pile.  I’ll let you know what I think, hopefully, before the announcement of the result on 25th October.

Obviously, I still have two to read but at the moment the book I will be championing is “His Bloody Project”.  The book I am most disappointed by it not reaching the shortlist was “Work Like Any Other” by Virginia Reeves (Scribner 2016).  I have read this but not yet posted my review so look out for it soon.  It’s a good one.

Eileen – Ottessa Moshfegh (Vintage 2016) – A Man Booker Shortlist Review



“Violence made much more sense to me than any strained conversation.  If there had been more fighting in my family growing up in X-Ville, things might have turned out differently.  I might have stayed.”

“Eileen”, American author Moshfegh’s  second novel is a first person narrative,  largely an escape plan by the title character, living in a place she calls X-Ville with her alcoholic ex-cop father.  Eileen is somewhat strange, with bizarre habits, rituals and hang-ups.  She is an isolated figure, working in a boys’ prison as an administrator devising pointless questionnaires for the visiting mothers just to pass the time.  As the story moves towards Christmas 1964 Eileen begins to plan her getaway from this existence (a plan we know succeeds as the narrator is Eileen looking back to this time).  Her fantasies of killing her father and of being seduced by one of the prison guards all take more of a back seat when Rebecca, appointed to devise a curriculum at the prison arrives.

It is undoubtedly well-written and Moshfegh keeps us guessing throughout.  There were undertones of misery-lit at times (not my favourite genre) but Rebecca’s appearance adds a new dynamic to the proceedings and it is one sentence from her which changes the whole proceedings for the final section of the book, taking it into a direction I did not anticipate.

The character of Eileen is fascinating and Moshfegh’s creation is the reason this has made the longlist. Naive, unpredictable and able to elicit responses from sympathy to revulsion from the reader but throughout you will her to get her life back on track and escape both the prison she works in and the one she has created for herself.  I would be very happy to see this on the shortlist.

Update – Sept 13th – Congratulations to Ottessa Moshfegh  for making the shortlist.


Eileen was published by Vintage in March 2016.  Many thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for a review copy.