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Instant Reaction: Booker Prize 2010 longlist

July 27, 2010

Absolutely delighted to see m’colleague Paul Murray’s Skippy Dies is one of the thirteen novels selected for this year’s Man Booker Prize longlist. A book with incredible scope, warmth, humour and depth, Skippy‘s a worthy member of the list and I dearly hope will be one of the six-book shortlist announced in early September.

Elsewhere on the list: Peter Carey’s Parrot and Olivier in America — his retelling of Alexis de Tocqueville’s misadventures — is an obvious longlist candidate, though I’m afraid I found it rather a drag. Fellow Australian Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap has garnered a lot of attention in his home country and, although I was keen to read it, I’m afraid I’m put off by the farting character on the first page and prose which seems at best workmanlike (that said, I loved his Loaded — filmed as Head On — which did a great job of exploring the multicultural sprawl of Melbourne, and it sounds as if The Slap attempts something similar).

Rather embarrassingly, I haven’t read any of the other books yet, though I’ve some excuse in that Tom McCarthy’s C, and Emma Donoghue’s Room — said to be a fictive take on the Josef  Fritzl case, about which I feel somewhat uneasy, although going by one of the previews on Amazon it sounds more like a version of Australian film Bad Boy Bubby — are not yet published. I wasn’t bowled over by the excerpt from C which Granta published in its Work issue earlier this year, but I haven’t read his novels before and will likely check this one out. I’ve likely already read my last Rose Tremain and Andrea Levy (both of whose last books were desperately unoriginal explorations of the immigrant experience), but I’ll be picking up a copy of Alan Warner’s The Stars in the Bright Sky, a sequel to his uproarious and insightful 90s novel The Sopranos (no relation) and look forward to cracking open books by some of the other contenders.

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