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2017 Man Booker Shortlist Predictions

Our shadow panel of 6 judges managed to collectively read all 13 books. We rated all the books on the following criteria: 1) writing quality; 2) originality; 3) character development; 4) plot development; and 5) enjoyment.  Based on our collective ratings we came up with a group shortlist. Keep reading to find out how each book was ranked and which books we predict will make the list. The shortlist will be announced tomorrow. 

To start off, below are are “objective” rankings. These rankings were based on our overall ratings for each book averaged across all judges who read the book. If you click on the links they will take you to our mini-reviews of each book. Here are our panel’s consensus ratings:

1.  Autumn by Ali Smith: 18.25/20
2. Exit West by Hamid: 17.4/20
3. 4321 by Paul Auster: 17/20
4. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders: 16.8/20
5. Solar Bones by Mike McCormack: 16.67/20
6. Home Fire 16.33/20
7. Days Without End by Sebastian Barry: 16/20
8. History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund: 15.4/20
9. Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor: 14.87/20
10. Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead: 13.9/20
11. Swing Time by Zadie Smith: 13.7/20
12. Elmet by Fiona Mozley : 13.5/20
13. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness: 12.67

Based on our overall combined ratings, the first 6 books would make our shortlist if we were the Man Booker judges. We’ve given each judge the opportunity to share their thoughts and predictions for the shortlist.

Jen’s Predictions: I read all 13 books on the list and I’m finding it really hard to select my top 6 because most of the books were really fantastic and they were all pretty different.

Here are the books I think will (and should) make the shortlist (in no particular order):

  1. Autumn
  2. Exit West
  3. Lincoln in the Bardo
  4. Home Fire
  5. Reservoir 13
  6. Solar Bones

I’d also like to add that while I didn’t particularly love the Ministry of Utmost Happiness, and it ranked low for our panel, I think it has a pretty good shot of making the shortlist –possibly bumping out (Exit West). Of all the books on my personal shortlist, Exit West is the one about which I’m most nervous.

Book Worm’s predictions:  I have split this into books I would like to see make the shortlist and books I think will make the shortlist.

The books I would choose for the shortlist are
1. Home Fire
2. Reservoir 13
3. Autumn.

The books I think will make the shortlist are:
4. Elmet
5. 4321
6. Solar Bones.

Nicole’s predictions:  First, I’m super excited to see the shortlist.  I only read 9 of the books, but my predictions will include them all.  It’s hard to leave Underground Railroad off the list, even though I want to.  Also, hate to leave off Lincoln in the Bardo, but this is predictions not favorites.  ACK.

Going out on a limb pre-shortlist, I predict Exit West for the win.

My list:

  1. Exit West
  2. Autumn
  3. Elmet
  4. Solar Bones
  5. 4321
  6. sadly Underground Railroad

Anita’s predictions: I only managed to read 8 of the 13 long listed books, but I had a blast making the attempt.  As a result, some of my predictions include books I haven’t read, but I got soooo into participating in this blog, that I ended up consuming a whole lot of book reviews and Man Booker analysis which has helped form my opinions.  Unfortunately, my favorites and my predictions don’t really line up as I note below!

My predictions:
  1. Autumn – Ali Smith
  2. Solar Bones – Mike McCormack
  3. Lincoln in the Bardo – George Saunders
  4. The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead**
  5. Reservoir 13 – John McGregor
  6. Home Fire Kamila Shamsie**

**Really hope I’m wrong and that Exit West and History of Wolves somehow miraculously get these two slots.


Andrew’s Predictions: 
Allow me to be direct and upfront: I am the slacker of the group. With only 2 books completed and 3 half-finished, I do not deserve a vote as to which books make the shortlist. (Sidenote: I will do my best to read the shortlist!!!)  So I won’t bore you with a paragraph of my unfounded reasons as to why certain books will make the shortlist.

Given what I’ve read, and more importantly based on the reviews of the others on the panel, here are my predictions:
  1. Lincoln in the Bardo
  2. Autumn
  3. 4321
  4. Solar Bones
  5. Exit West
  6. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

So there you have it… The winner will be announced on October 17th. Over the next month we’ll feature a little more about each of the shortlisted books and we’ll be back to make our predictions for overall winner in mid-october.

We want to hear from you! What did you think of the list? Which books do you think will make the list? Which judge do you think has it right?

Want to check out some other predictions? Check one of our favorites here:
Jo’s Book Blog

21 Comments Post a comment
  1. jesshodg #

    Am intrigued to know why Jen and Anita didn’t go for 4321 after your great reviews yesterday?

    Liked by 1 person

    September 12, 2017
    • I did love it but for some reason don’t think it will make the list. It’s a very “American” book and I’m predicting that a U.K. author will win this year. I also think that this year judges picked books that are pretty political or have strong social justice focus. 4321 does not have that as much as other books. I would be happy if it makes it though.

      Liked by 1 person

      September 12, 2017
    • Anita #

      I really enjoyed the book, but I think I am personally looking for that something “extra” in a potential big literary prize winner. Agree with Jen that this one was very American, and I think with the other two strong American contenders, Lincoln in the Bardo and Underground Railroad (which admittedly I didn’t particularly care for, but nearly all literary critics did), that 4321 was less original than the other two. Also noticed that some readers really felt strongly negative about 4321 so that has tempered my enthusiasm about projecting it onto the longlist.

      I agree with Jen’s thoughts above, and also feel like a woman might be selected as the winner.

      Liked by 1 person

      September 12, 2017
    • Anita #

      Apparently, we should have gone with 4321!

      Like

      September 13, 2017
      • yeah, I had it on my list at first but then thought Reservoir 13 needed to make it. I’m not surprised by it though. I am surprised by Elmet and History of Wolves.

        Like

        September 13, 2017
      • Anita #

        In my mind, I’m actually capable of justifying all of the shortlist choices, but I do think it means that the judges were using different evaluation criteria than I expected them to be using! I thought originality and focus on topical social issues would weigh more heavily and that plot would need to be at least good. Now, after seeing the list, I think the emphasis was more on character development and actual use of the English language (writing) . . .which ironically are the two things that I feel are most important to my personal enjoyment of a book. I definitely over-intellectualized!

        Liked by 1 person

        September 13, 2017
      • Yes, but didn’t you hate Elmet?

        Like

        September 13, 2017
      • Anita #

        I certainly wasn’t a fan of Elmet (far from it), but I can at least work my mind around it being on the list. I actually enjoyed reading it in the sense I wasn’t bored, and I didn’t want to put it down, but that ending killed it for me. Really killed it. However, the author is clearly talented in her ability to create atmosphere, and it had a fresh feel to it. While I didn’t think the voice was super consistent or fit the protagonist, it was distinctive. I mostly felt the book just needed a much better editor.

        Liked by 1 person

        September 13, 2017
      • I completely agree. I found the ending so off putting that it’s hard to be objective but I agree with your assessment

        Like

        September 13, 2017
  2. jesshodg #

    I’m going for Autumn, 4321, Home Fire, Lincoln in the Bardo, Solar Bones, Resevoir 13

    Liked by 2 people

    September 12, 2017
  3. I do think Res 13 will probably be on the list, I just didn’t know where to put it.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 12, 2017
    • Too many really good books this year

      Like

      September 12, 2017
  4. Jo #

    Thanks for the mention – I’ve really enjoyed reading through your reviews of the longlist! I think that this year’s shortlist is really hard to call – I put my own prediction list together multiple times, and I’ still not entirely happy with it!

    Like

    September 12, 2017
  5. Ah there are so many good ones this year!! Jen in an ideal world your shortlist is it!! I would love to see autumn, home fire & reservoir. I feel like solar bones will make it (not a fave of mine)… I wouldn’t be disappointed if Lincoln, exit West made it either. I feel like ministry (tbr) could make it as could railroad (cr) hmm so tricky. Surprises would be history of wolves and swing time (not my faves)

    Liked by 1 person

    September 12, 2017
    • Did you manage to read all of them?

      Liked by 1 person

      September 12, 2017
      • I’ve read 8 I think! Have just picked up underground railroad. Haven’t read ministry or Elmet. Don’t want to read 4321 or the Sebastian Barry one.

        Liked by 1 person

        September 12, 2017
      • That’s great! I hope you like a Underground Railroad.

        Liked by 1 person

        September 12, 2017
      • Me too Lol! It seems to be a love it or hate it one so i have zero expectations 😂

        Liked by 1 person

        September 12, 2017
  6. Anita #

    Two out of six, lol . . .stupid me, I should have just gone with the books I liked instead of second guessing which ones I thought were “best”. I would have done so much better! The good news is I only have one book on the shortlist that I haven’t read!

    Like

    September 13, 2017
  7. You did remarkably well to predict five of the six that the judges chose.

    Like

    September 13, 2017

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