The (Wo)Man Booker Shadow Panel Shortlist

The results are in! We have argued and deliberated and made what compromises we had to, and it’s all over. Here is our (Wo)Man Booker Shadow Panel shortlist:

  1. Bill Clegg, Did You Ever Have a Family
  2. Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings
  3. Sunjeev Sahota, The Year of the Runaways
  4. Anuradha Roy, Sleeping on Jupiter
  5. Tom McCarthy, Satin Island
  6. Marilynne Robinson, Lila

If you compare this list to my personal shortlist, you’ll see that they are almost the same. The one change is that Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life isn’t there and Anuradha Roy’s Sleeping on Jupiter is. I would have liked to see A Little Life on our group shortlist, but Sleeping on Jupiter was my seventh choice and just barely didn’t make the cut, so at least there’s nothing on the group shortlist that I disliked. This isn’t true for everyone on the panel!

As for the absence of A Little Life, well, it’s a controversial book. My guess is that it will make it on the official shortlist and may have a chance at winning (although I don’t think it should win). But this whole exercise has shown just how personal reading is. Some readers bought into the world of the book and others didn’t, and that was true for just about every book on the list. I’m not implying that there aren’t solid, logical arguments to make about why one book is better than another, but inevitably there are arguments to be made on both sides — or several sides — and people from all the different sides will think their solid, logical arguments are the most convincing. Before you even get to those solid, logical arguments, though, there is the reader’s immediate response, and there’s no arguing about that. A lot of our conversations were about trying to account for those immediate responses and to try to understand why they varied so much.

And the conversations were so fun! It was a great pleasure to participate on this panel, and I want to thank Frances profusely for organizing it. Thank you, Frances!

And now to see what the official judges have to say. I’ll try to come back and write up my thoughts on their list. I can’t wait to see.


Filed under Books

3 responses to “The (Wo)Man Booker Shadow Panel Shortlist

  1. I like what you say about an immediate response. All the analysis in the world, for me, doesn’t usurp my gut feeling: I loved a book, or not.

    It was great fun to read with you and the others. I, too, thank Frances. But, I also thank you for the comments you left at Dolce Bellezza, and the tweets we shared.

    Personally, I hope that A Little Life does win. But, we’ll see…


  2. Your (Wo)Man shadow jury has done a marvelous job. Now as the Man one has announced the shortlist, will your panel vote on the final winner? I’m most curious to know. I’ve only read one on the short list, Satan Island, and I think it’s brilliant. I don’t think it’s cold, but um, deadpan. And it’s very funny, satirical mostly. BTW, thanks for the ‘like’ on Goodread. After reading it, for some reasons, I have no urge to read the other ones. Not at this moment anyway. It needs to sit there in my mind for a while. I just might re-read it before picking up the other ones.


  3. Preston Webb

    This is very interesting I would love to read a follow up article !


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