About 90 minutes ago the judges of this year’s Man Booker award announced the 2015 shortlist. Below are the finalists:
- Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings (Oneworld Publications)
- Tom McCarthy, Satin Island (Jonathan Cape)
- Chigozie Obioma, The Fishermen (ONE, Pushkin Press)
- Sunjeev Sahota, The Year of the Runaways (Picador)
- Anne Tyler, A Spool of Blue Thread (Chatto & Windus)
- Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life (Picador)
My first impression – I like that the list has a sense of diversity and inclusion about it, featuring authors from Jamaica and Nigeria. Even with the appearance of familiar names such as Tyler and McCarthy, there is still something fresh and new about the authors presented.
My second impression, based on a quick skim of the interwebs, is the length of the nominated books. On one hand we have Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life which weighs in at 900 pages long and over 300,000 words. Yes. Three. Hundred. Thousand. As I said on Facebook, it makes Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries look like a picture book. All the more astounding, intimidating and terrifying for people who have yet to read the nominees because like me they were waiting the list to be whittled down, Marlon James’ magnificent, A Brief History of Seven Killings is close to 250,000 words. So in two novels we have about 550,000 words of fiction, or six average sized novels. Though it’s not all bad news (or good news if you like your books enormous), because Tom McCarthy’s Satin Island (the one “speculative” novel on the list) just reaches the 200 page mark and is less than 50,000 words long. Compared to the others, it’s most definitely the amuse bouche of the nominees.
I have read one of the novels, that would be the previously mentioned book by Marlon James. It was a nominee for the National Book Critics Circle Award earlier in the year. I utterly adored A Brief History (click on the link above to find out why) and it’s up there as one of my favourite novels of the year. Consequently it’s going to take something special from the other five finalists to supplant A Brief History as the best nominee on this list. (I should also note that the Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread was previously nominated for the Baileys Women’s Prize a few months back… but didn’t win).
From tonight I start reading the nominees, and because I go from the longest to the shortest my first book off the pile will be A Little Life. Expect a review in about two weeks.