Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

Booker’s Dozen: Enquiring Minds Want to Know


Nothing says “England” like the Booker Prize. There’s a delightful pomp and propriety here: “First awarded in 1969, the Man Booker Prize is recognised as the leading prize for literary fiction written in English,” the Booker organisation modestly states, in a delightful accent and with that fabulous spelling.

Cultural power is a fascinating thing in England – and elsewhere. What are the subjects and who are the authors that draw the attention of prize committees? That’s one reason to care about, or at least be interested in, the list. You might find it encouraging or discouraging. You might find your next read.

The Man Booker Prize longlist, recently announced, features 13 novels remarkable for their “disruptive power: these novels disrupted the way we thought about things we knew about, and made us think about things we didn’t know about,” says Booker Prize chair Kwame Anthony Appiah.

The shortlist will be announced September 20th and the Prize itself will be awarded on October 16th

Here’s the list and a link to the Booker Prize website, which describes each work:

Belinda Bauer (UK)                      Snap (Bantam Press)

Anna Burns (UK)                          Milkman (Faber & Faber)

Nick Drnaso (USA)                       Sabrina (Granta Books)

Esi Edugyan (Canada)                 Washington Black (Serpent’s Tail)

Guy Gunaratne (UK)                    In Our Mad And Furious City (Tinder Press)

Daisy Johnson (UK)                     Everything Under (Jonathan Cape)

Rachel Kushner (USA)                The Mars Room (Jonathan Cape)

Sophie Mackintosh (UK)              The Water Cure (Hamish Hamilton)

Michael Ondaatje (Canada)         Warlight (Jonathan Cape)

Richard Powers (USA)                 The Overstory (William Heinemann)

Robin Robertson (UK)                  The Long Take (Picador)

Sally Rooney (Ireland)                  Normal People (Faber & Faber)

Donal Ryan (Ireland)                    From A Low And Quiet Sea (Doubleday Ireland)

Books I’ve read from the list: The Mars Room, by Rachel Kushner, and Warlight, by Michael Ondaatje (See Bacon post here: The Mars Room is my top pick for Summer 2018. I recently finished the atmospheric, moody Warlight, chosen by my couples book club and appreciated by all, though some loved it more than others).

The book I may read next from the list is The Overstory, by Richard Powers. It’s about trees. And people too I think. 

Last year’s Booker Prize winner – Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders – frustrated me to no end and finally took my breath away.

George Saunders, author of ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’, poses for photographers after winning the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2017 in London, Britain, October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Mary Turner

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Top image copyright here.


  1. Great, insightful post! And gotta love that meme!

  2. Thumbs up for The Mars Room and Warlight (I really enjoyed it)! I’m looking forward to starting some of the other books on this list.

  3. The Man Booker list has always been a go-to favorite of mine. I’ve found some exciting reads there. I’m glad Lincoln in the Bardo blew you away – – I thought it was wonderful and so glad it was recognized. I enjoy your posts!

    • I always love the Man Booker list too!! It’s a great place to find an ambitious read. Lincoln in the Bardo has certainly elicited mixed responses among my friends & acquaintances. I absolutely loved it. Glad you did too. And I’m so glad you enjoy these posts!! xoxo

  4. Loved this post. Wanted to mention that there is some backlash from British authors who want to see U. S. Writers ineligible for the Booker. (Since the prize has been won by Americans the last two years, “Lincoln in the Bardo,” and “The Sellout.” 🙂

    • Hi Alana! Thank you so much for being in touch! That’s so interesting about the backlash… one can understand why they feel that way, though of course including American authors elevates the prize, I think. I doubt the committee will choose an American author this year! Do you have any favorites on the list? xoxo

      • I liked “The Water Cure.” I can hardly wait until (English author) Hilary Mantel’s third book in her Cromwell series comes out. Her first two (Wolf Hall & Bring Up the Bodies) won The Booker, and people considered that an amazing accomplishment. She’ll be hard to beat when her next one is published. (There has been a delay. The pressure has got to be great.)

        • I am crazy about Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies! I can only imagine the pressure for the third. I will check out The Water Cure!! Thank you again for being in touch. xoxo

          • I can’t wait for the next volume in the Wolf Hall series! Is it expected soon or has there been a delay? I agree – the pressure on her must be tremendous. Definitely a Man Booker front runner.

  5. Yes, a delay for the third book, whose title is “The Mirror and the Light.” I found this quote: “Fear of disappointing fans of the trilogy appears to be the main cause of her slow progress on the novel, which will cover the period from Anne Boleyn’s execution in 1536 to Cromwell’s fall from power four years later. “It is 10 years’ worth of effort and it is lovely to have the encouragement of people who are waiting for it, but that’s why I want to deliver them something that is the very best,” Mantel said. Others have suggested she doesn’t want to have to kill Cromwell. (!)

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