Far and away the most unexpected title to be included on this year’s longlist for the prestigious Man Booker Prize is Me Cheeta: My Life in Hollywood, first published in the U.S. on March 3, 2009 and purported to be the autobiography of Cheeta, the chimpanzee who starred in the Tarzan films of the 1930s and 40s. Amazon.comlists the author of Me Cheeta as “Cheeta.” As the Telegraph reports, Me Cheeta is a “devastating satire of the debauched lifestyles of Hollywood's golden era stars.”
In October, a full seven months after the book’s publication, James Lever, a 38-year-old ghost writer from London, was revealed to be the actual author of Me Cheeta. After the book landed on the Booker longlist, Lever commented, “I'm delighted that after a long process of trying to sell it deadpan as work of non-fiction by a chimp that the Booker judges have accepted it as a novel.” He shouldn’t be too surprised. After all, the Booker judges will accept just about anything as a novel these days.
In case you’re wondering, the Financial Times reports that Summertime, by J.M. Coetzee, is “an early 3/1 favourite for the prize by Ladbrokes, the bookmaker.” Coetzee won the Booker prize in 1989 for Life & Times of Michael K and in 1999 for Disgrace. He also snagged the Nobel prize for Literature in 2003.