Booker Prize 2012: The Shortlist Short Shrift

on Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Well, team Booker have just announced the shortlist and I'm feeling a strange sense of deja vu. Just like last year, there seems to be one clearly deserving book and five underwhelming pieces of padding to fill the remaining spaces. Unlike last year, though, I don't have Stella Rimington to blame. What ever will I do?

For those who have yet to see the announcement, the six books in the running are:

Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel
Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil
Umbrella by Will Self
Swimming Home by Deborah Levy
The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng
The Lighthouse by Alison Moore

Yes, yes. I know what you're thinking. I was the first in to bat for the long list and now I've snubbed my nose at its distilled mutant cousin. I can't explain it either. I suppose the more time the list had to sink in, the more blasé I became about it. I never considered it exciting, just sufficiently literary to merit Booker consideration. Alas, I am going to eat my words and cross the floor. I'm with Stella. There's no point in making it 'literary' if it's just plain boring.

Needless to say the safe money would be on Mantel. She is a class (well, a good number of classes) above anyone else on this list. Also, given that Bring Up the Bodies is book two in a trilogy that began with the Booker-winning Wolf Hall, it'd be cool if she bagged it to set up the greatest cliffhanger in the history of the prize. Sure, we might have to wait a couple of years, but at least there's a chance it might get interesting again. Ah, who am I kidding?

Onto the rest of the list... Edgy tomes from subcontinental writers seem to have good Booker form so Narcopolis may well turn out to be this year's White Tiger. Plus, Jeet shares a surname with the dude from Soundgarden. That's got to count for something. Will Self is in the habit of bitching about Booker's relevance or lack thereof so maybe the panel will see the great comic potential in giving him the nod. It certainly won't hurt Self to eat his words; he's looking a bit thin these days. As for the others, I don't have much to say. I quite liked Eng's last book but am in no rush to read this one, Deborah Levy has never been on my radar and Alison Moore's book is a debut. Remember what happens when a debut wins the Booker? D.B.C. Pierre. That's what. I now use him as a verb. Pejoratively.

I'm not going to a hazard a guess this time round. I'm always wrong. But if they don't give it to ol' Hilary, so are they!


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