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2015 Man Booker Prize Shortlist Predictions

man bookerTomorrow the 2015 Man Booker short list will be announced, so it is time for some predictions! You may have noticed that our blog has been taken over by long list book reviews lately. We’ll get back to our regular post schedule next week. We came close to reading all the long list books between the two of us. Not too bad considering that neither of us had read any of the books prior to the announcement. So we completed 11.5/13 books (Book Worm is half-way through A Brief History of Seven Killings). We reviewed 9 of those books and Jen will post her review of The Moor’s Account next week. For each book, we rated with 5 criteria including originality, character complexity, and writing.  Two 2 “free” points were given for being published in English and being published in the U.K (criteria for the Man Booker Prize). See which books we read, how we personally ranked them, and which ones we think will actually make the cut.

Book Worm and I only read 2 books in common however, our ratings often match so we have combined both our ratings into one list. The only books we didn’t complete were Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg (because it is still in transit to Jen) and A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (Book Worm is half-way done with it). We ranked books based on character complexity, writing quality, and originality.  We will start of with our personal ratings and preferences then move onto the books we think will actually make the official shortlist (because they never seem to pick the books we like most). Here are our personal rankings of all books (hyperlinks will take you to our reviews):

  1. Little Life: (based on Jen’s rating) & The Illuminations (based on Book Worm’s Rating): 18/20
  2. The Chimes by Anna Smaill 17.25 (average rating Jen & Book Worm)
  3. The Fishermen (based on Jen’s rating) & Sleeping on Jupiter (based on Jen’s rating): 16/20
  4. Lila & The Year of the Runaways (both based on book worm ratings): 15/20
  5. The Moor’s Account by Lalami: 14.5/20 (review to follow by Jen)
  6. A Spool of Blue Thread: 14/20 (based on book worm’s rating)
  7. The Green Road (joint rating) & Satin Island (book worm’s rating): 13/20

Therefore our personal shortlist (in order of preference) is:
1-2. A Little Life & The Illuminations
3. The Chimes
4. The Fishermen
5. Sleeping on Jupiter
6. The Year of the Runaways (BW: I picked The Year of the Runaways over Lila because it is a more ambitious novel than Lila)

Jen’s Thoughts: I read 6 books and I have to admit that I wasn’t blown away by any of them except A Little Life. A Little Life had its flaws, but I don’t think any other book has had that kind of emotional impact on me. It put me through the emotional wringer and will be a book I think about for a long time. In my opinion, none of the other options I read came close to it, and most of them weren’t books that I would classify as contenders for best book of the year. I did enjoy The Chimes and thought it was very original and beautifully written. I hope it makes the list but I am doubtful that it will make it — too much of a Young Adult feel. I did like The Moor’s Account but it got lower ratings for me for originality and character development thus it was scored lower – but I enjoyed it more than The Fishermen or Sleeping on Jupiter. Based on reviewer buzz I think the official list will look different than our personal shortlist. I predict that it will look more like this:

My predictions for the official list (in no particular order):
1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara: seems to be everyone’s favorite.
2. The Illuminations by Andrew O’Hagan:
3. Lila by Robinson
4. Satin Island by Tom McCarthy
5. The Green Road by Anne Enright: Booker judges seem to really love Enright.
6. A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James: I haven’t read this one but is sounds really interesting and is one that I will be reading soon.

Book Worm’s Thoughts
Having read 7.5 of the long list books, I have to say I have not been that impressed with the originality of the stories. In fact, in my normal star rating system most of these were average 3 star books.

I agree with Jen that The Chimes has a YA feel, however I think it should be selected because of its originality and beautiful writing.

My personal favourite has to be The Illuminations. I just loved that book and I will be most disappointed if it doesn’t make the shortlist.

I would put Satin Island through as it is original despite the fact the ending was such a let down.

My predictions for the official list (in no particular order):
1) The Chimes by Anna Smaill
2) A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (I have not read this one. I am basing this prediction on other reviewers comments)
3) Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (I have not finished this yet but halfway through I think it will score higher in terms of originality and complexity than most of the others I have read).
4) The Illuminations by Andrew O’Hagan
5) Satin Island by Tom McCarthy
6) The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma (another one I have not read)

Which books have you read? What are your predictions for shortlist tomorrow? Fellow bloggers: if you have made predictions for the shortlist, paste your links in the comments section.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jo #

    I love the variety in predictions for the short list – my predictions are here:

    Liked by 1 person

    September 14, 2015
    • Book Worm #

      Like your list 🙂 having seen the results I am disappointed that the really original Chimes didn’t make the cut


      September 15, 2015
      • Jo #

        Thanks, although it turns out that I’m rubbish at predicting these things! Interesting mix on the final short list though


        September 15, 2015
  2. I have to campaign for Brief History which I personally gave 4.5 stars. Can’t remember why I didn’t give it 5. Maybe because I had to work so hard? I am pretty lazy.
    Using your system I’d probably have given it an 18/20.

    I really can’t compare it to the others though because I have yet to read any of them. Finally got The Moor’s Account from the library though and its queued up on the kindle. Hmm, sounds like a possible “Adventure Travel”.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 14, 2015
    • I want to read that one and likely will read it based on your earlier review. It sounds the most interesting to me.

      You like historical fiction, right? I think you will probably like The Moor’s Account. I liked it overall although at times did find myself bored and I found the writing style a little dry. It picked up for me in the second half. I did like the premise of the book and the author’s attempt to explain the expedition from a different perspective. Like most books about the subject (conquest of the Americas, stealing land, and enslaving native Indians, as you can imagine it will be very sad.


      September 14, 2015
    • oh, and definitely fits adventure travel and for you will be a quick read. I think it’s around 300 pages but I read it in a day.


      September 14, 2015

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