Posted by: Corri van de Stege | September 9, 2008

The Booker Prize long list and my choice

In a comment on one of my posts recently, Sarah asked me which books on the Booker list I intended to read, or have already read.  That’s a nice challenge and I’m taking her up on this.  The long list for the Booker is:




The White Tiger – by Aravind Adiga

Girl in a Blue Dress – by Gaynor Arnold

The Secret Scripture – by Sebastian Barry

From A to X – by John Berger

The Lost Dog – by Michelle de Kretser

Sea of Poppies- by Amitav Ghosh

The Clothes on their Backs – by Linda Grant

A case of Exploding Mangoes – by Mohammed Hanif

The Northern Clemency – by Philip Hensher

Netherland – by Joseph O’Neill

The Enchantress of Florence – by Salman Rushdie

Child 44 – by Tom Rob Smith

A Fraction of the Whole – by Steve Tolz


Out of this list, I have only read one: Netherland, by Joseph O’Neill and I haveI reviewed it here.  I loved the book and as it is the only one I have read so far and as I thought it was excellent, my choice for the winner would of course be O’Neill.  But that might change as I have meanwhile received A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif.  This had a lovely review in one of the podcasts I listened to on my iPod a little while ago and Hanif provided an interesting and humorous account of what the book was about.  So I’ll be reading that.


I must admit that as far as the rest of the list is concerned, there are names I have never even heard of (Gaynor Arnold, Sebastian Barry, Michelle de Kretser and a few more).   I have a Berger on my tbr pile but not the one that’s on the list.   I shall probably convince myself to read Salman Rushdie’s Enchantress as so far I have read every single book by him (I think) even if I found some of them hard going, but before I run away with myself, I’m going to wait until tomorrow when the short list comes out and see if I can narrow down the list and try and catch up with the reading of that list before the actual winner is announced.  Now that I know how the winner is arrived at (totally chaotic and a matter of who happens to be a member of the panel this year, the‘trade off’ between judges,  the chair of the panel, the … etc, you can read it for yourself), I am going to decide my own winner out of the ones that I have read by the time the announcement is made.  My luck if the winner is one of those that I haven’t read yet, but then that gives us something to read for after the announcement!


I am just mortified that Breath by Tim Winton is not on the list – it should have been as far as I’m concerned.  Can anyone tell me why it isn’t?


Well, how about this?  Or is my approach even more glib than the way it is decided by a panel?  After all, I think I have quite a good insight into literature (even though professional reviewers will say I haven’t)  and I think I know quite well what good books and good writing is about, even if my taste may be different from that of some of the judges.


Anyway, whoever wins in the end, I think it’s marvelous – congratulations!






  1. I was disappointed that Breath wasn’t on the longlist as well, and then of course there’s Helen Garner’s The Spare Room.

    I haven’t read any of the selected books yet, although I bought The lost dog (because she’s Australian and A. S. Byatt liked it) and want to read A fraction of the whole, Netherland and The enchantress of Florence.

    It will be interesting to find out who makes it to the shortlist.

  2. Great list! Have fun reading!

    BTW, You have been tagged?!

  3. I agree that the short list would be a result of the trade-off among the judges. The judges would also have personal criteria by which they esteem a book. I have not read any of the books, owing to the fact that many of these aren’t even published in the US. But I have read several of Amitav Ghosh’s, including In Antique Land, Calcutta Chromosome and The Glass Palace. I have Netherland on my TBR list.

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