I know, I know — sometimes these celebratory Man Booker awards can seem a bit indulgent. But I love them.

I did not know this, but in 1969 and 1970 the Booker Prize was awarded retrospectively. In 1971 it became a prize for the best novel in the year of publication. From the Man Booker webpage:

At the same time, the date on which the award was given moved from April to November. As a result of these changes, there was a whole year’s gap when a wealth of fiction, published in 1970, fell through the net. These books were simply never considered for the prize.

Now, to correct this, forty years later, a longlist of 22 books “which would have been eligible and are still in print and generally available today” has been chosen. This long (very long) list will be wittled down to six by a three-judge panel: Rachel Cooke, Katie Derham, and Tobias Hill.

Their shortlist will be announced March. Then we, the “international reading public” get to pick the ultimate winner with our votes. This time, Salman Rushdie will not win — I don’t think.

Here is the list:

  • Brian Aldiss: The Hand Reared Boy
  • H.E. Bates: A Little of What You Fancy?
  • Nina Bawden: The Birds on the Trees
  • Melvyn Bragg: A Place in England
  • Christy Brown: Down All the Days
  • Len Deighton: Bomber
  • J.G. Farrell: Troubles
  • Elaine Feinstein: The Circle
  • Shirley Hazzard: The Bay of Noon
  • Reginald Hill: A Clubbable Woman
  • Susan Hill: I’m the King of the Castle
  • Francis King: A Domestic Animal
  • Margeret Laurence: The Fire Dwellers
  • David Lodge: Out of the Shelter
  • Iris Murdoch: A Fairly Honourable Defeat
  • Shiva Naipaul: Fireflies
  • Patrick O’Brian: Master and Commander
  • Joe Orton: Head to Toe
  • Mary Renault: Fire from Heaven
  • Ruth Rendell: A Guilty Thing Surprised
  • Murial Spark: The Driver’s Seat
  • Patrick White: The Vivisector

I haven’t read a one of them. I haven’t heard of most of them — or several of the authors. I look forward to hearing about them, hopefully picking up a gem, and perhaps I’ll try to make my way through the shortlist when it comes next month.

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