Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Booker Shortlist 2012

This year I have, for the second year running, been invited to join the panel at the YCAA annual Booker debate.

It’s an interesting shortlist this year with small publishers Salt and Myrmidon making the cut. It’s always good to see this sort of recognition for the smaller presses.

It’s also interesting reading the comments in the media. I have to admit I’m a bit concerned by remarks along the lines of ‘The judges have turned their backs on readability’ opting instead for ‘the shock of language’ and books that are ‘Conceptually challenging’.

Last year I was allocated ‘The Sense of an Ending’ by Julian Barnes, which went on to win. Yes, it was readable, beautifully written and I thoroughly enjoyed it. So why is readability such a dirty word? A book can be literary AND readable!

So now I’m wondering what I’m going to be allocated to read this year.

Here’s the shortlist – just in case you haven’t seen it:

The Garden of Evening Mists – Tan Twan Eng (Myrmidon Books)
Bringing Up The Bodies – Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate)
The Lighthouse – Alison Moore (Salt)
Umbrella – Will Self (Bloomsbury)
Narcopolis – Jeet Thayil (Faber)
Swimming Home – Dehorah Levy (Faber)


  1. Hi Kate, what a great job! Let me know if they're ever short of a panel member ;)
    I also loved The Sense of an Ending and was surprised it was such a 'Marmite' book. I suppose if you were looking for a pacy read, you might go else where but as for readability, I thought it was that wonderful combination of being readable and beautifully written.
    Hopefully good sense will will-out at the Booker (ever the optimist).

  2. Have read the Mantel and the Levy, and am presently dancing around The Lighthouse. It is so simply and so deftly written, but the MC's social incompetence is so acutely painful and recognizable (I have geeks in my life) that I am finding it really hard going emotionally.

    My money is on Hilary though. Would love to see her a two-time winner.

  3. Wow what an exciting thing to be involved with. Let us know what you read.

  4. Readability is a thoroughly clean word in my book. I'm understanding that Will Self's is not particularly readable, and my instinctive response to this is to run away. Literary can definitely be readable!

    Only started reading one of them, Swimming Home. Very enjoyable read so far!

  5. I'm looking forward to reading Hilary Mantel's sequel, definitely literary can be readable and any book can be well-written. Sounds like fun!

  6. My money is on Hilary Mantel, though I have not read the other! As you say good to see small press in there, may you get the book you want in the selection.

  7. "Literary and readable" - I agree completely. That's what I aspire to!

  8. Still waiting for my book to arrive - I'll let you know as soon as it does! Maybe in today's post......

  9. Exciting! The two books I'd heard of before your post are The Lighthouse and Narcopolis, I'll have to look up the other titles. Look forward to hearing which book arrives :)

  10. My book arrived yesterday afternoon! I've got Bring up the Bodies - I started reading it last night - enjoying it so far... goodness I wish I could write like that!

    1. Oh wow! Hilary Mantel was...or is going to be in Ely for the Autumn Literary Festival.


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