The shortlisted novels are:
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma
Quichotte by Salman Rushdie
10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak
I must confess to being a little behind on this project, as I have somehow managed to read all the longlisted novels that didn’t make the shortlist (except for Deborah Levy’s The Man Who Saw Everything which was only just released). I have read enough of the Shafak and Evaristo to feel their inclusion is merited. An Orchestra of Minorities is stunning. I’m mildly dreading Ducks, Newburyport.
So what of the books that didn’t make it? Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry was engaging and pacy, somewhat reminiscent of Waiting for Godot. Lanny by Max Porter was a gorgeous little novel: not the most inspiring of prose or plot, but it shone by turning snippets of everyday speech into poetry. Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli is magnificent: it’s the only longlisted book I’m surprised didn’t make the shortlist. It weaves together multiple stories, plays with structure and voice, and is technically superb throughout. It also left me feeling completely cold: for a story with real pathetic potential, it just lacked a hook to get me invested in any of the characters and their struggles.
Most impressively, there is no book here (that I have read so far) that I would warn against. This is a really strong longlist and even those that haven’t merited comment from me (My Sister, The Serial Killer, The Wall, and Frankissstein) are entertaining and have something to say.
With the award of the winner scheduled for 14th October, I aim to publish a review of one book per week for the next 6 weeks. I will be interested to know your thoughts as I go through!