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Man Booker shortlist: the reaction
11.09.13 | Bookseller Staff
The media has reacted positively to the Man Booker Prize shortlist, announced yesterday (10th September), with Gaby Wood of the Telegraph declaring it "a truly great shortlist".
Meanwhile Linghams Booksellers in Heswall, Merseyside, is celebrating after accurately predicting the entire shortlist the day before the announcement.
Gaby Wood, head of books at the Telegraph, wrote that she felt "an actual tear of joy in my eye" when the shortlist was read out by chair of the judges, Robert Macfarlane.
Wood, a former judge herself, said: "I sent out a tweet: 'Best Booker shortlist in living memory: NoViolet Bulawayo, Jim Crace, Eleanor Catton, Jhumpa Lahiri, Ruth Ozeki, Colm Toibin'. There was one almost instant reply: 'Really? What about 2004: The Line of Beauty, Cloud Atlas, The Master?' Well, maybe my memory’s not what it might be, or my idea of living debatable, but I take none of it back. This is, to my mind and my memory, a truly great shortlist."
However, she added that she was struck by the fact that only one novelist on the list lives in the UK, and said: "It occurred to me that we could ask ourselves whether Britain is particularly congenial to writers."
The Daily Mail led with the same issue, headlining its coverage with: "Only one British author on Booker shortlist".
It added: "Two of the nominees raised eyebrows as they have American backgrounds—the contest, founded in 1969, is open only to writers from the Commonwealth, Ireland and Zimbabwe."
The Guardian coverage focused on another contentious area, the length of Colm Tóibín's The Testament of Mary (Viking) which stands at 30,000 words and 104 pages. It described at as "the most slender novel ever shortlisted for the £50,000 prize", but said "it is unquestionably a novel".
Many focused on the bookmaker's odds on the winner, with Jim Crace touted as the frontrunner, with Eleanor Catton close behind. The Evening Standard lead on Crace's position as favourite, calling him a "literary heavyweight".
Meanwhile, the Times found another quirk of this year's list, pointing out that 28-year-old Catton would be the youngest person ever to win if The Luminaries (Granta) is chosen as the winner on 15th October.
At a party at the Serpentine Gallery last night to celebrate the shortlist announcement, MacFarlane [pictured] said it had been a "bumper Booker year", adding: "There were 151 novels to read, which I worked out was about 30 foot [if you stood them on top of one another]. I've climbed a few mountains in my time, and this took some reading." Macfarlane said he considered the list's most striking feature its "global range".
Meanwhile Linghams Booksellers in Heswall managed to pre-empt the judges' decision by accurately guessing the entire shortlist and posting it on its Facebook page the day before the announcement. The shop has now tipped Crace to win.