Man Booker Prize Comment: weak shortlist means 2014 ceremony will be a damp-squib
Release Date 13 October 2014
The Man Booker Prize winner is to be announced on Tuesday 14 October. Professor of Contemporary Literature at the University of Reading, Dr David Brauner, explains why this year's ceremony should promise much...but doesn't.
"This year's Booker Prize award ceremony is likely to be something of a damp squib. It's a weak list that is more notable for the novels it has omitted than for those that have made the cut.
"Martin Amis received his now-customary snub at the long-list stage. The strongest novel on that list - Orfeo by the brilliant American novelist Richard Powers - didn't make it to the short-list. Susan Minot's Thirty Girls, Donna Tart's The Goldfinch and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah are also noticeable by their absence. These books, along with the latest short-story collections by Lorrie Moore and Lydia Davis, will be read and re-read long after most of the books on the shortlist have been forgotten.
"The strongest book on the list is Howard Jacobson's J but I fear there may be some reluctance to make him a two-time winner (his novel The Finkler Question won in 2010) so soon after Hilary Mantel's double win (with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies).
"John Sutherland's mischievous (or perhaps malicious) nomination of J at the top of his list of 'The Top 10 Unfinishable Novels' in The Guardian last week won't have helped its chances either. It revives the perennial debate about whether the Prize should be awarded on literary merit alone or whether it should only reward what Stella Rimington called 'readable' books."