Tuesday, August 15, 2006

2006 Booker Prize for Fiction: The Longlist

THE FOLLOWING NOVELS have been longlisted for the 2006 Booker Prize for Fiction. I am glad that many of my favourite books of the year have been included. However, a couple of my favourites were excluded: Jane Harris’s The Observations (Faber & Faber, 2006), Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale (Orion, 2006) and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun (Fourth Estate, 2006), all three of which are excellent first novels in many ways. There are three former Booker Prize winners on the longlist: Peter Carey, Nadine Gordimer and Barry Unsworth. Will Carey win his third Booker Prize with his new novel? There are three Australians on the longlist: Peter Carey, Kate Grenville and M.J. Hyland? Carey first won the Booker Prize in 1988 for Oscar and Lucinda (1988) and in 2001 for True History of the Kelly Gang (2000). However, Theft (excellent though it is) is not Carey’s best work. Grenville won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for The Secret River (2005) in 2006, while her last novel, The Idea of Perfection (1999), won the 2001 Orange Prize for Fiction. A rich harvest for Random House (Jonathan Cape, Chatto & Windus, Doubleday and William Heinemann) with five writers on the longlist, while Penguin (Hamish Hamilton and Viking) has four on the longlist. On the whole, the longlist has quite a good balance of new and established writers.

In reviewing Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s second novel, Alastair Sooke in the Daily Telegrah wrote, “What a travesty that Half of a Yellow Sun is not in contention for the Booker prize this year. The stark maturity of its vision is so startling that the great African novelist Chinua Achebe refused to believe the book could have been written by someone so young (Adichie is only 28). From the very first page you understand what he means ... The characters burrow into your marrow and mind, and you come to care for them deeply—something that is all too rare when reading some of the tricksier contemporary novels.”

1. Theft: A Love Story (Faber & Faber, 2006) / Peter Carey
2. The Inheritance of Loss (Hamish Hamilton, 2006) / Kiran Desai
3. Gathering the Water (Doubleday, 2006) / Robert Edric
4. Get a Life (Bloomsbury, 2005) / Nadine Gordimer
5. The Secret River (Canongate, 2006) / Kate Grenville
6. Carry Me Down (Canongate, 2006) / M.J. Hyland
7. Kalooki Nights (Jonathan Cape, 2006) / Howard Jacobson
8. Seven Lies (Jonathan Cape, 2006) / James Lasdun
9. The Other Side of the Bridge (Chatto & Windus, 2006) / Mary Lawson
10. So Many Ways to Begin (Bloomsbury, 2006) / Jon McGregor
11. In the Country of Men (Penguin Viking, 2006) / Hisham Matar
12. The Emperor’s Children (Picador, 2006) / Claire Messud
13. Black Swan Green (Random House, 2006) / David Mitchell
14. The Perfect Man (William Heinemann, 2006) / Naeem Murr
15. Be Near Me (Faber & Faber, 2006) / Andrew O’Hagan
16. The Testament of Gideon Mack (Hamish Hamilton, 2006) / James Robertson
17. Mother’s Milk (Picador, 2006) / Edward St. Aubyn
18. The Ruby in Her Navel (Hamish Hamilton, 2006) / Barry Unsworth
19. The Night Watch (Virago, 2006) / Sarah Waters

The shortlist of six will be announced on September 14, 2006, the winner on October 10.


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