The 2016 Man Booker Prize longlist was announced last Wednesday. Readers of The Oxen of the Sun might recall that each year I declare it my last year collecting signed first editions and playing the game of predicting the winner for the sake of my library. The Booker going global last year was a big game-changer for me, and not in a good way - as a US-based reader, the Booker was a window into a literary realm that I wouldn't really encounter on my own. Now, the longlist is full of familiar faces (including an old professor of mine from undergrad) and far less eye-opening and horizon-expanding.
I'm underwhelmed by this longlist, and will certainly not be scrambling for a ton of rare UK editions, but I can't help but be intrigued. Paul Beatty made a splash with the New York Times notable book list last year, David Means and Ottessa Moshfegh have been all over the major literary journal circuit for the past five or so years. I quite liked Deborah Levy's Swimming Home, was nonplussed with Black Vodka, but am a little curious about Hot Milk. Elizabeth Strout's The Burgess Boys was not particularly good and makes me suspicious of Lucy Barton, but she did win the Pulitzer. Ian McGuire's The North Water looks like the only other title up my alley. I'll check that out but probably skip the rest.
Here's the full longlist:
Paul Beatty (US) – The Sellout
J.M. Coetzee (South African-Australian) – The Schooldays of Jesus
A.L. Kennedy (UK) – Serious Sweet
Deborah Levy (UK) – Hot Milk
Graeme Macrae Burnet (UK) – His Bloody Project
Ian McGuire (UK) – The North Water
David Means (US) – Hystopia
Wyl Menmuir (UK) – The Many
Ottessa Moshfegh (US) – Eileen
Virginia Reeves (US) – Work Like Any Other
Elizabeth Strout (US) – My Name Is Lucy Barton
David Szalay (Canada-UK) – All That Man Is
Madeleine Thien (Canada) – Do Not Say We Have Nothing
I read The Paris Review and am a big fan of all of Ottessa Moshfegh's short stories that have been included in the journal. Her work is terrific and strange and she's a writer that I've been particularly keen on watching over the past few years. I picked up this signed copy of Eileen from the Community Bookstore in Park Slope last year. Even if she doesn't make it to the shortlist (although she should), I hope her inclusion in the longlist tips more people off about her talent.
Barkskins by Annie Proulx