The Man Booker Prize Long List for 2015

August 8, 2015 at 1:27 pm (Awards, books)

The Man Booker Prize long list for 2015 has been announced. Here are the chosen titles; they’re listed with the names of the publishers and the authors’  respective countries of origin (or current residence):

Bill Clegg (US) – Did You Ever Have a Family (Jonathan Cape)

Anne Enright (Ireland) – The Green Road (Jonathan Cape)

Marlon James (Jamaica) – A Brief History of Seven Killings (Oneworld Publications)

Laila Lalami (US) – The Moor’s Account (Periscope, Garnet Publishing)

Tom McCarthy (UK) – Satin Island (Jonathan Cape)

Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria) – The Fishermen (ONE, Pushkin Press)

Andrew O’Hagan (UK) – The Illuminations (Faber & Faber)

Marilynne Robinson (US) – Lila (Virago)

Anuradha Roy (India) – Sleeping on Jupiter (MacLehose Press, Quercus)

Sunjeev Sahota (UK) – The Year of the Runaways (Picador)

Anna Smaill (New Zealand) – The Chimes (Sceptre)

Anne Tyler (US) – A Spool of Blue Thread (Chatto & Windus)

Hanya Yanagihara (US) – A Little Life (Picador)

I haven’t read any of these titles. Three of them – those by Roy, Sahota, and Smaill – have not yet been published in this country, as far as I can determine. I’ve had the Enright, Robinson, and Lalami titles out of the library at some point, but they were returned unread. (I don’t suppose that counts!) I had an unexpected “epic fail” with one of these selections: A Spool of Blue Thread. For years I’ve been a faithful fan of Anne Tyler’s fiction, but this novel annoyed me almost  from the get go. Those same hapless, well meaning characters back again! The problem could have been my mood. I may try again; one of my book groups has scheduled it for our December meeting, and I will always have a high regard and affection for Anne Tyler.

The book I take on first from the above list will probably be The Moor’s Account. Laila Lalami, born and raised in Morocco, is currently an associate professor of creative writing at the University of California’s Riverside campus. What we have here is a striking, gifted, and mellifluously named author, a beautiful book cover, and a graceful and compelling opening passage:

In the name of God, most compassionate, most merciful. Praise be to God, the Lord of the worlds, and prayers and blessings be on our prophet Muhammad and upon all his progeny and companions. This book is the humble work of Mustafa ibn Muhammad ibn Abdussalam al-Zamori, being a true account of his life and travels from the city of Azemmur to the Land of the Indians, where he arrived as a slave and, in his attempt to return to freedom, was shipwrecked and lost for many years.

Lalami

Laila Lalami

MoorsAccount-home1

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The Booker Prize Foundation proclaims itself to be an evolving and dynamic entity. To an extent, this is no doubt true. But one does wish – This One does, at any rate – that its members would in some way acknowledge the outstanding work being done now and in years past in the field of mystery and crime writing. For that matter, where are the short story collections? An unusually large number of these have garnered rave reviews in recent months. I mentioned some of the titles in a recent post entitled Twenty fiction and mystery titles I’ve loved (or at least liked a lot) so far this year.  (Presumably the Foundation’s motto “Fiction at Its Finest” includes short stories – and could also include crime fiction.)

5 Comments

  1. pamkirst2014 said,

    Thanks for both lists! I agree that there is some outstanding mystery writing

  2. kdwisni said,

    Roberta, here’s my take on Spool of Blue Thread. True, it starts like many of her other novels, but then she switches narrators and retells the story from completely different points of view. Following is my Goodreads writeup:

    Nobody does a better job of portraying the havoc wrought by good intentions at the family level. Everything rings true in Anne Tyler’s latest novel about a Baltimore family of three plus one adopted son. The mother, Abby, is a social worker, who can’t help inviting waifs and strays; it’s her very nature as much as her profession. But when a little boy is orphaned after his father (who works for Abby’s husband) suddenly dies, there are unintended consequences for her own son. I ended up rereading this novel in light of revelations at the end. Turns out the clues were there all along. Could Abby have done things differently? Probably not, which is often the case in Anne Tyler’s novels where there are never out-and-out villains, just people being people.

    • Roberta Rood said,

      Many thanks for this, Kay. You’ve strengthened my inclination to try the book again.

  3. Angie Boyter said,

    Roberta, thanks for the lists, and I find our reactions really amusing. That graceful beginning you quoted was enough to make me think this is one I would definitely skip! Yuk!

    • Roberta Rood said,

      Ah, well, each to his own, I guess!

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