Originally known as the Booker, it used to have just one criterion – that the prize would be for ‘the best novel in the opinion of the judges’. That remains one of the criteria and we know there have been some off years, it is a unique award, not what you would call popular fiction, it is what the organisers refer to as quality fiction to attract ‘the intelligent general audience’ – sounds a little book snobbish to me, but then judging book prizes is subjective and often sparks a great debate and sometimes even bad behaviour.
The aim of today’s prize is said to be to promote the finest in literary fiction by rewarding the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland.
Last year’s winner was Julian Barne’s Sense of an Ending, which I admit that I have not read yet, Barnes’ being a novelist I’ve started and stopped a couple of times, but will persevere and read before too long.
As an aside, I saw recently that the 2002 winner Yann Martel’s Life of Pi is being made into a film, directed by Ang Lee and today the film trailer has come out and it looks promising indeed.
And so, the Man Booker long list, announced by the judges today, from 147 submitted, the 12 novels are:
Nicola Barker, The Yips
Ned Beauman, The Teleportation Accident
André Brink, Philida
Tan Twan Eng, The Garden of Evening Mists
Michael Frayn, Skios
Rachel Joyce, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Deborah Levy, Swimming Home
Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies
Alison Moore, The Lighthouse
Will Self, Umbrella
Jeet Thayil, Narcopolis
Sam Thompson, Communion Town
Six novels will be shortlisted and announced on 11 September and the winner on 16 October 2012.
So have you read any on the list yet, any predictions for the shortlist?