The (Wo)Man Booker Shadow Panel

What was I thinking? My yoga teacher said last night that the blue moon is a time of increased energy and taking on new projects. Perhaps I was celebrating a day early. Whatever the reason, when Frances asked me on Thursday whether I’d like to join a Booker shadow jury, I said yes with little hesitation.

So I’ll be joining BellezzaNicole, Rebecca, and Frances in an attempt to read the Man Booker longlist and create our own shortlist by the time the actual shortlist is announced in September. It’s an informal process, and we’ll be posting as we go, so you can watch our list develop–and maybe enjoy the suspense of differing opinions!

Lucky for me, I’ve already read two of the shortlisted books, and my feelings about them couldn’t be further apart. And last I checked, these were at the top of the odds for winning the prize. So for a taste of what I’m likely to push for (or not), check out my reviews.

With Lila, Marilynne Robinson continues to cement her place in my mind as America’s greatest living writer. Here, she takes on the voice of the uneducated but intelligent Lila, eventual wife of John Ames from Robinson’s earlier novel Gilead, as Lila takes tentative steps toward accepting and understanding love after years of focusing on little more than mere survival.

Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life garnered much praise as a searing exploration of the long-term results of abuse and the glory of friendship and love in the midst of pain, even as that love fails to surmount the pain. I, unfortunately, found it to be melodramatic and ridiculous.

Have you read any of the long-listed books? Which one(s) are you rooting for (or against)?

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22 Responses to The (Wo)Man Booker Shadow Panel

  1. vikzwrites says:

    I too plan to read the longlist. You can find me I am currently read Moor’s Account. Really enjoying it.

    • Teresa says:

      Awesome! The Moor’s Account is on top of my stack (because there was no library waitlist). I didn’t love her previous book, but I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying this one.

  2. BookerTalk says:

    I now I’ll not be able to get through the longlist before the next round but I’m planning to read at least a few. Just started The Illuminations today

    • Teresa says:

      If I hadn’t already read two and planned a staycation for next week, there’d be no hope of getting through the list, but I’m an hoping… and trying.

  3. When it comes to books, I am the queen of undertaking ambitious projects! It’s hard to say no :)
    I’m looking forward to following your progress. I’m reading A Little Life at the moment, although I’m at the very beginning so lets see how it goes… Lila is next on my list!

    • Teresa says:

      I liked the first 200 pages or so of A Little Life–it just started to wear on me after a while. But I’m an outlier! You may love it all the way through!

  4. Lisa says:

    I am surprised that A Spool of Blue Thread made the list, and I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of it. I didn’t get too far with the book before this one – it felt tired and a bit too familiar – so I wasn’t inspired to look for this one, especially after I read a review that found it a bit tired and familiar.

    • Teresa says:

      I’ve only read one Anne Tyler (Breathing Lessons), and I thought it was only OK. But that was close to 20 years ago, so my opinion might be different now. I won’t be able to compare it to her other books, so it might feel less familiar to me.

  5. I read the Ann Tyler book. You can read my review here and I’m hoping she wins!

  6. Deb says:

    So far, the only book I’ve (partially) read is A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEVEN KILLINGS which, for all its epic scope and ambition, did me in after 200 pages of both mindlessly cruel violence and the attempt to write much of the dialog in Jamaican patois. I could clearly see that James is a writer of skill and passion, and also that he had something important to say, but the way he went about saying things just didn’t work for me.

    As for the book by Hannah Yanagihara, I was totally underwhelmed by her previous book, THE PEOPLE IN YHE TREES, which I thought was bloated and in desperate need of ruthless cutting, so I’m giving this one a pass.

    Geez, I sound like an old geezer(ette). Stay off my lawn!

    • Teresa says:

      I started A Brief History months ago, but realized I wasn’t in the right mental space to follow the story. I loved his The Book of Night Women, but I listened to it rather than reading it, and I think the dialect might be easier to listen to. We’ll see how it does. I’m saving that one for next week, when I’m off work.

      And if you thought People in the Tress was bloated, passing a A Little Life is the right choice. (I’d say it’s the right choice in general, but people inexplicably seem to adore it.)

  7. It’s a great longlist, but I think the book I’m most curious about is The Fishermen — I’ve heard great buzz about it.

  8. Heather says:

    The only one I’ve read is Satin Island, which I quite liked. Looking forward to hearing about the rest!

  9. I bare my teeth at this longlist for including damn Little Life but I suppose I can’t complain too much as it does give me another opportunity to rant and rave about that damn book.

    • Teresa says:

      I’m not going to say I joined this project to keep it off at least one shortlist because that’s not true, but it is a nice side benefit. The good news is at least one other person on our jury tried and disliked it, so I won’t have to fight alone if the others adore it, and they might.

  10. Jeanne says:

    I’m increasingly amused that I’m the only person I know who really liked A Little Life. It had melodramatic parts, but whose life doesn’t?

    • Teresa says:

      Well, there’s melodrama and there’s having every single man outside New England be a child abuser. I like my melodrama somewhere in between none and that ;)

  11. Bellezza says:

    I’m so curious to try A Little Life. I stayed away from it when it was getting all the buzz (not that the buzz has stopped) because the cover alone was so disturbing to me. I suspect I may feel as you described: melodramatic. We’ll see…

    So fun to read with you and the others.

    • Teresa says:

      I am very curious to see what everyone else on the panel thinks–and how much of a tussle we’ll get into about it when it comes time to make a shortlist!

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