They have just officially announced the 2018 Man Booker Prize longlist! This prize holds a special place in my heart, even if I often find it very frustrating. This year, though . . . well, this is a particularly exciting longlist! It reminds me of the sense of discovery and hope I’ve felt in the Booker’s strongest years. I’m also very glad to see that, though American authors have won the award the last two years, there are only three on this longlist (which isn’t to say that the list is particularly globally diverse this year — it isn’t).

I’m excited to see how these books rate in our collective consciousness! I have read none of them to date, though there are a few I have on my side-table. There are several more I’m looking into for the first ever today, and that’s so exciting!

Please share your thoughts below or join the active The Mookse and the Gripes Goodreads group here. Links below are Amazon affiliate links.

by Belinda Bauer
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Everything Under
by Daisy Johnson
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Washington Black
by Esi Edugyan
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From a Low and Quiet Sea
by Donal Ryan
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In Our Mad and Furious City
by Guy Gunaratne
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by Michael Ondaatje
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The Long Take
by Robin Robertson
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The Overstory
by Richard Powers
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by Anna Burns
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Normal People
by Sally Rooney
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The Water Cure
by Sophie Mackintosh
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by Nick Drnaso
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The Mars Room
by Rachel Kushner
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By |2018-07-24T13:02:26+00:00July 23rd, 2018|Categories: News|4 Comments


  1. David August 4, 2018 at 2:31 pm

    I don’t follow prizes very closely at all, so I have just now learned that Sabrina by Nick Drnaso is not only a graphic novel, but the first to be nominated for this prize. I did a little google search to see what reaction this is getting and did not find a lot. I found a lot of praise for the book with a mention of the nomination and a couple of people saying it was good that a graphic novel was included, but no criticism of this decision.
    There are some people who think that a graphic novel is just a pretentious term for a comic book and a comic book can’t possibly be up to the standards of “serious” writing. Those people are becoming less common and I certainly am not one of them. In fact, I have been reading and enjoying graphic novels since almost the beginning of the common use of the term more than 30 years ago. There are exceptionally talented people who have produced exceptionally strong work in the graphic novel form.
    The problem, as I see it, is that to group graphic novels and text-only novels together is a category mistake. No one would expect the Booker to nominate a single short story (they have, in fact, generally even rejected books that are collections of short stories) or a single poem (and no collection of poems has even been nominated) or the text of a play (and again, none has ever been nominated). That’s not because anyone thinks those forms are not good enough to be considered for this prize. It’s just that they are the wrong kind of thing to be considered for it.
    The graphic novel isn’t a novel. It isn’t a short story. It isn’t a poem and it isn’t a play. It’s something different. In fact, it is much more different from a novel than a short story or even a play text is. If a prize wants to be open to a variety of categories of storytelling (I can’t even use the word “writing” here, as that would actually exclude the graphic novel) that’s fine, but if they are under the impression that the graphic novel is just another kind of novel and thus makes more sense to include for consideration than a short story, a poem, or the text of a play, then they are mistaken.

  2. Greg August 5, 2018 at 11:26 am

    Trevor – Your introduction? got me pumped up and I will definitely read WARLIGHT and THE MARS ROOM this Fall to get ready!

    David – I agree 100% about the graphic novel not belonging here for the reasons you stated. Thanks for the compelling arguments.

  3. Trevor Berrett August 6, 2018 at 11:22 am

    David, I agree 100%. Over on Goodreads I have been part of the dissent in The Mookse and the Gripes group. Here is a part of my response to Robert, a regular commenter, who, as part of a very civil discussion, valorously maintained his support for the inclusion of Sabrina. My response is to his saying, “Sabrina is challenging those notions of what a novel is.”

    At this point the Man Booker Committee accepted this, so we are all dealing with it. But it is a very very strange inclusion for a prize that has always had tight rules on what is and what isn’t eligible.

    -Novella: NO! (unless in a given year we can say the book is just over whatever the qualifying line for a novella to graduate to a novel is)
    -Short story collection: NO! (unless we think we can look at it sideways and consider it a coherent novel in disparate parts)
    -Published play: NO! (unless nothing! we won’t do this!)
    -Graphic novel: YES! (even though this form, by virtue of being visual, is the furthest from the Booker rules)

    If the Booker wants to include graphic novels in its definition, that is fine. They can do whatever they want. Indeed, if they take their moniker — “Fiction . . . at its finest” — seriously, they should look for many ways to expand. Indeed, they should be boundless in seeking out the very best piece of fiction published in any language from any country, in any format, in any genre, whether with still or moving images.

    Still, if this is their goal, this is a strange step in that direction. I cannot imagine a single argument that will make me think a graphic novel fits the narrow and exclusionary definition the Booker has adopted while a novella or short story or play (or screenplay! why not?!) doesn’t.

    Now, I would like to read Sabrina. I like graphic novels. More people should read them and experience the depths therein.

  4. Greg August 7, 2018 at 3:39 am

    Thanks Trevor for taking the time to paste your answer over here. You and David are ‘one’ on this!

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