Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The 2008 Man Booker Prize for Fiction Shortlist

THE 2008 Man Booker Prize for Fiction shortlist were announced in London today. Good to know that Sebastian Barry (Ireland), Amitav Ghosh (India), Orange Prize-winner Linda Grant (Britain) and Philip Hensher (Britain) are on the shortlist as I have always enjoyed their work. Dublin-born novelist, dramatist and poet Barry was of course shortlisted for the 2005 Man Booker Prize and the 2007 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for A Long Long Way (Faber & Faber/Viking Penguin, 2005). Two first-time writers are on the shortlist as well: Aravind Adiga (India/Australia) and Steve Toltz (Australia). New York-based Irish novelist Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland (Fourth Estate/Alfred A. Knopf, 2008) was, I thought, a surprising omission.

I asked Sebastian Barry what was the first thing he did when he found out that his fourth novel, The Secret Scripture, had been shortlisted for the 2008 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, what he thought of the other titles on the shortlist and if he had read any of them, here is what he said:

“The first thing I did on hearing [the good news] was tell my son Toby, aged 11, who, dressed in his nice new school clothes, went rolling around the lawn, screaming, getting mud all over himself. It was exactly how I felt myself. As last time [when A Long Long Way was shortlisted in 2005], I haven’t dared to read the other books [on the shortlist]. I only caught up with Julian Barnes’s book [Arthur and George] on holiday recently (three years later!). But they all attract me as a reader, that’s for sure. I had read Joe O’Neill’s Netherland in proof early in the year and adored that—a beautiful maker of sentences.”

1. The White Tiger (Atlantic/Free Press, 2008) / Aravind Adiga
2. The Secret Scripture (Faber & Faber/Viking Penguin, 2008) / Sebastian Barry
3. Sea of Poppies (John Murray/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2008) / Amitav Ghosh
4. The Clothes on Their Backs (Virago, 2008) / Linda Grant
5. The Northern Clemency (Fourth Estate/Alfred A. Knopf, 2008) / Philip Hensher
6. A Fraction of the Whole (Hamish Hamilton/Spiegel & Grau, 2008) / Steve Toltz

The winner of one of the world’s greatest literary accolades will be announced on October 14, 2008


Anonymous Janet said...

Wow, Eric! I think all your predictions for the shortlist were accurate!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008 6:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just bought a copy of Joseph O'Neill's Netherland, Steve Toltz's A Fragment of the Whole and John Sutherland's The Boy Who Loved Books at Kinokuniya. I am looking forward to reading them. Thanks for the recommendation.

Fallen Angel

Friday, September 12, 2008 7:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kinokuniya's Man Booker Prize promotion is excellent. They have all the shortlisted titles except for Philip Hensher's The Northern Clemency.

Friday, September 12, 2008 8:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In 1974, Nadine Gordimer's The Conservationist and Stanley Middleton 's Holiday shared the prize. The same thing happened in 1992. In 1992, Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient and Barry Unsworth's Sacred Hunger shared the prize. This could be the year another two books share the prize. Perhaps Sebastian Barry's The Secret Scripture and Steve Toltz's A Fragment of the Whole?

Fallen Angel

Friday, September 12, 2008 4:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the top two books should be The Secret Scripture and Sea of Poppies.

Friday, September 12, 2008 8:11:00 PM  
Blogger Eric Forbes said...

I think anything can happen when a panel of judges makes decisions on books. I think it all really depends of what the panel is looking for. Another panel will most probably pick another as a winner.

Sunday, September 14, 2008 4:11:00 PM  

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