There’s nothing like a Man Booker Prize longlist of nominees to make us feel hopeless about our awareness of contemporary fiction. Especially because pretty much all we read is contemporary fiction.
The list came out today, and the only people we knew without the assistance of Google are Alan Hollinghurst, who has already won the Booker prize, and Julian Barnes. Four of the dozen writers this year are first-time authors and three are Canadian, so maybe that explains something.
Last year’s prize went to Philip Roth, which famously provoked one judge, Carmen Callil, to resign in protest, commenting that Mr. Roth ” goes on and on and on about the same subject in almost every single book. It’s as though he’s sitting on your face and you can’t breathe”.
Anyway, since prizes are basically just reading recommendations made by appointed experts (unless you’re the author), we’ll check back in September when the judges winnow this down a little bit. GalleyCat has posted “free samples” for those who feel like studying up.