Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Shocking Shortlist

The shortlist for the 2008 Man Booker Prize for Fiction was just announced, and it's a shocker. The shortlisted titles are:

  • The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
  • The Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
  • Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher
  • The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
  • The Clothes on Their Backs by Linda Grant
  • A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz
Notably absent from the list is Salman Rushdie's The Enchantress of Florence. Michael Portillo, the chair of the judging panel, commented, "In the opinion of these five people taken together, Salman Rushdie's was not one of the top six books for us. We didn't have a huge debate about it." Two of the other strong contenders for the prize also failed to make the cut: Michelle de Kretser's The Lost Dog and Joseph O'Neill's Netherland. Sebastian Barry has now been declared the favorite to win with The Secret Scripture.

The winner will be announced on Tuesday, October 14th. I've decided not to take on my usual challenge of reading all six shortlisted books before the winner is announced because three books aren't available in the U.S., and all the books are fairly lengthy this year. The Sea of Poppies is 528 pages and won't be available until October 14th. The Northern Clemency is 512 pages and won't be available until February 24, 2009. The Clothes on Their Backs is out of stock and appears to be available only as an import. A Fraction of the Whole is available, but it's 544 pages.

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