The Man Booker Prize is a funny thing, and there are lots of ways in which it’s not perfect. But, if it’s a flawed thing, it’s our flawed thing, and if you’re involved in books in the UK it’s difficult not to get excited about the longlisting, the shortlisting and the awarding every year of the prize.
There was lot to celebrate on this year’s longlist. Particularly notable were the inclusion of three books: Nick Drnaso’s Sabrina is the first graphic novel that’s ever made it onto the longlist. The Long Take, by Robin Robertson, is a classic noir novel entirely in verse. Snap by Belinda Bauer too pushes boundaries by residing more completely in the ‘genre fiction’ neighbourhood than in the suburban culs-de-sac and byways of ‘literary fiction’ from which the Booker normally draws its contenders.
In many ways, then, this year’s longlist – quietly, but firmly – redrew the constituency lines on the literary map. In this instance, though, it feels like a good thing.
And now the shortlist! Seems to us like good stuff (although… no The Water Cure? No Normal People?!). And if, like us, you’re anticipating having a whole bunch of avoidable and unavoidable conversations about the shortlisted books, then you’ll need something clever and discerning to say about them. That’s where we’re stepping up. Here are six short reviews, written by our colleagues here at Faber (except, of course, Anna Burns’ Milkman, which is reviewed by an out-of-house books colleague, since asking a Faber employee to review a Faber title seemed, well… sketchy af). Enjoy!
And, because our critical passion knows no limits, we actually also have reviews of the longlisted books, too! There are some fantastic books there, so check out the fringe.