Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The 2011 Booker Dozen: A U.S. Reader's Guide

The wait is over, friends. The 2011 Booker Prize longlist is here! I wasn't planning on reading the entire longlist this year for a variety of reasons, but the list is so surprising, I feel compelled to. I was rooting for Linda Grant (I adored We Had It So Good) and Anne Enright (I'll be reading The Forgotten Waltz soon), but there were so many past winners and shortlisted authors with new books out this year, I expected a list of literary familiars. Instead, we're treated to four (!) debut novelists, a strong showing for Canadian authors, and books not considered (gasp!) literary fiction. I'm jumping in, even though it won't be easy.

Unfortunately, this list is not very friendly to U.S. readers, so patience will be required. It is, however, a list one could easily read through before October 18 (when the winner is announced.) Not a single book has more than 500 pages (The Stranger's Child has 576 pages in the British version but only 464 in the U.S.; I assume the page size is different, as it often is.) Using page numbers provided by Amazon US & UK, one only has to read 48 pages each day to finish in time (if you can get a copy of all of these gems.)

The ones available in the U.S. now:
Jamrach's Menagerie: A NovelThe Sisters Brothers: A NovelA Cupboard Full of Coats

Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch (also longlisted for this year's Orange Prize) (Kindle version)
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt (Kindle version)
A Cupboard Full of Coats by Yvvette Edwards

Pigeon EnglishSnowdrops: A NovelFar to Go: A Novel (P.S.)
Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman (Kindle version)
Snowdrops by A.D. Miller (Kindle version)
Far to Go by Alison Pick (Kindle version)

The ones coming (somewhat) soon to the U.S.:
On Canaan's Side: A NovelThe Stranger's ChildThe Sense of an Ending
On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry (coming September 8, 2011) (Kindle version)
The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst (coming October 11, 2011) (Kindle version)
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (coming January 24, 2012) (Kindle version)

The ones we hope make their way to the U.S.:

Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan
The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers
The Last Hundred Days by Patrick McGuinness
Derby Days by D.J. Taylor (the first in this series, Kept, is available here)

I already have a copy of Jamrach's Menagerie and Pigeon English, so I'll read those two first. I've requested the other four available in the U.S. from the library and hope to get my hands on them soon. I broke down and ordered The Last Hundred Days and Half Blood Blues, but I'm hoping to snag a copy of The Testament of Jessie Lamb through interlibrary loan. I don't think it will be possible to read the entire longlist before the shortlist is announced (or even the winner!), as the Barry, Hollinghurst and Barnes will be very tough (or expensive) to come buy before they're published. Still, I'll be following all of my favorite British book blogs as they weigh in on this year's longlist.

Now tell me: which title(s) are you most excited to read?

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  1. Wish a the list were a bit more U.S. friendly. I'm really curious about The Testament of Jessie Lamb. Sebastian Barry's new one sounds really good, too.

    I probably won't be reading the list, but I look forward to following those that are. I've not heard of many of these books until now!

  2. This is such a great recap! I went ahead and looked them all up earlier today too and put them all on my wishlist. It sometimes takes me a couple of years to get through them all since we can't get them for awhile here but as long as I put them on there I'll get to them eventually!

  3. A lot of these I have never heard of before, and I will probably have trouble finding since I am in the U.S., though I love it that you let us know exactly how many pages we have to read each day to fully keep up! This was such a great post! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  4. I am most excited to read The Stranger's Child. I also want to read Pigeon English. As you said, so many will be hard to come by and my current reading list is already a mile long so by the time I have room for them..they should be out :)

  5. If it's any consolation, we're still waiting for The sense of an Ending and A Cupboard Full of Coats to be released in the UK!

    The list has caught me rather by surprise. I liked a lot about the two I've read - Pigeon English and Far To Go - but I really didn't see either of them as booker contenders.

  6. Thank you for the titles, covers, and U.S. availability info. Very helpful! I've added your blog to my blogroll and subscribed through Google Reader.
    I liked Julian Barnes' Arthur and George a lot, and thought it should have won prizes, but I don't think it did.

  7. I understand why you've been tempted: it's been years since I've entertained the possibility of reading a Booker longlist (having had a few off-putting reads previously) but this year has piqued my interest for sure. Alison Pick's, Jane Rogers' and Esi Edugyan's books would be at the top of my list as of this moment. Now to check my reading schedule...

  8. Like you, I wasn't too keen on reading the Booker longlist either, but that list is entirely intriguing, that I want to at least sample a few. I also have Jamrach's Menagerie and Pigeon English and hope to read those first.

  9. Some of these look very "male" to me *laughs* I read Jamrach's Menagerie and wasn't terribly impressed with it - so I will be interested to read your thoughts. The ones already in the US that appeal to me are: The Strangers Child, On Caanan's Side, Far to Go, and A Cupboard Full of Coats.


Thank you for taking the time to comment. Happy reading!