Begin the Booker Beguine (Again)

on Saturday, July 21, 2012
Time to slip on your dancing shoes for another year of prize picks and punch-ups. The folk at Man Booker have just released the 'key dates' for this year, which means it's the beginning of my favourite book season. In fact, we only have a few days to wait until the Longlist is announced. Come Wednseday the bickering can begin about who should be shortlisted, who should win, who was left off and whether Hilary Mantel can win back to back Bookers for two consecutive novels, the second being a sequel to the first.

The field of contenders is packed with heavy hitters this year: Peter Carey could be in line for his third, Ian McEwan, John Banville, Nadine Gordimer, Sebastian Faulks, Pat Barker or James Kelman could win a second, and Martin Amis, Zadie Smith or Will Self could finally bag their first. Also present is a slew of other almost-winners: John Lanchester, Lawrence Norfolk, Mark Haddon, Nicola Barker, Michele Roberts and Simon Mawer. And I'm glad to see Australia has fielded a number of viable options with Kate Grenville, Elliot Perlman, Alex Miller, Jon Bauer, Chris Womersley and Anna Funder. Personally, I'd love to see it go to one of the newer kids on the block, such as Ned Beauman, Will Wyles or Lloyd Shepherd though I'd also want to put a sentimental vote in for Dan Rhodes with his beautifully whimsical This is Life?

This all might be a moot point, overshadowed by the great behemoth on the horizon. Following seven Booker snubs J.K. Rowling, the Harry Potter squillionaire, is finally releasing her first book for adult readers which might just mean that the panel are ready to deem her sufficiently 'literary' for their consideration. Could this be the gold watch to end all gold watches?

Head to the recently refurbished Booker site on Wednesday to see the Longlist.

The shortlist will be announced on September 11.

The winner will be announced on October 16.

Reckon you can read the entire Booker Dozen by then?


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