The names familiar to me from the longlist were the ones that made it to the shortlist of six. But I haven’t read any of these books:

  • Nina Bawden: The Birds on the Trees
  • J.G. Farrell: Troubles
  • Shirley Hazzard: The Bay of Noon
  • Patrick White: The Vivisector
  • Mary Renault: Fire from Heaven
  • Muriel Spark: The Driver’s Seat

When the Best of the Booker shortlist was announced I raced to read the ones I hadn’t yet read. I’d like to do the same this year, but I have so many other things to read right now — we’ll see!

It doesn’t appear that Bawden’s The Birds on the Trees is in print here in the U.S. The other five are, however, and, as it happens, they are still in print by some of my favorite publishers: New Directions, NYRB Classics, and Penguin Classics, Picador, and Vintage. I’m a bit wary of the Renault because I read and didn’t like in the least The Last of the Wine. To me it was like reading a bad translation. In its defense, it was required reading in a classical Greek class (professor’s attempt to show how the subject has been approached in more contemporary times); and of course every other book, play or poem we read was better.

Good luck if you join in the fun! If you have a favorite in this list, you can also join in the public vote. The vote closes on April 23, and the winner will be announced on May 19.

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