The Man Booker Prize 2017 Longlist: Predictions, Possibilities and Preferences

Man Booker Prize 2017I only started blogging about my predictions for literary award longlists relatively recently. Three of my Man Booker Prize predictions last year made it on to the longlist of 13 titles, and two of them also made the final six, which I thought was a pretty good success rate considering the vast number of eligible books.

This year’s longlist is due to be announced on Thursday 27th July and I have once again been thinking about predictions in terms of likely possibilities and my personal preferences. I have read some brilliant books over the past year which I believe very much deserve to be recognised but I think other titles may have a better chance of being longlisted. Some of the possibilities are books I haven’t read yet and as ever, I also have no knowledge of which books have actually been submitted for consideration.

The Nix Nathan Hill

Conversations with Friends Sally RooneyLincoln in the Bardo George Saunders






The Nix by Nathan Hill and Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney are my two stand-out debut novels so far this year but I think Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders is more likely to appear on the longlist even though I personally didn’t love it. Given that the chorus of voices challenges traditional conceptions about the form, scope and structure of a novel, a place on the longlist would be a very bold choice indeed and it would reveal a lot about the tastes of the judges.

The Man Booker Prize often has some overlap with the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist and this year’s winner The Power by Naomi Alderman could be among those listed again. Other more experimental titles have recently gained recognition through literary awards and I think Solar Bones by Mike McCormack which won the Goldsmiths Prize last year or The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride which was shortlisted for the same award could be in with a chance too.

Autumn Ali Smith

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry






Recent novels by authors who have previously been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize include Autumn by Ali Smith and Swing Time by Zadie Smith and I would be pleased to see either of these on the longlist. However, I think Days Without End by Sebastian Barry is more likely to enjoy further success following its Costa Book of the Year win in January. Described as a “post-post-apocalyptic novel” H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker is also eligible as is The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy which is the Man Booker Prize-winning author’s long-awaited follow-up to The God of Small Things and has received strong reviews.

Books published up until 30th September 2017 in the UK are eligible for this year’s prize meaning that some titles are not yet available to buy. I have just finished reading a review copy of The Burning Girl by Claire Messud which is as compelling and astutely written as her previous novel The Woman Upstairs and will be published at the end of August.

The possibility of discovering brilliant new books and authors is why I continue to follow literary award longlists with interest, so predictions of popular bestsellers aside, I hope there are plenty of little-known gems from small independent presses on the longlist such as His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet which ended up being one of my favourite books of 2016. All eyes will inevitably be on the recent offerings of Oneworld Publications following its two successive wins for Marlon James and Paul Beatty and I think Here Comes The Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn, a dark debut novel set in Jamaica, could be this year’s one to watch.

Do you agree with my predictions? Which books would you like to see on the Man Booker Prize longlist this year?


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36 responses to “The Man Booker Prize 2017 Longlist: Predictions, Possibilities and Preferences

  1. Elliot Hyland

    Oh, I’d love to see how well you did with the predictions this year. I recently bought Zadie Smith’s Swing Time, so it’d be great if that was on the list. And I’d also love to see some books that I hadn’t heard about before.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed your comments and insights. As for your statement, “I also have no knowledge of which books have actually been submitted for consideration.” I suggest googling “Man Booker 2017 goodreads” which list almost 200 “contenders.” Although the accuracy of this list is questionable, it is nevertheless very interesting. Other possibilities I foresee: The Underground Railroad, A Sport of Kings and No One Can Pronounce My Name.


    • Yes I’ve seen the Goodreads list – I think it’s mostly accurate in terms of which books are eligible and it’s likely that most have been submitted but I can’t know for sure. I haven’t read The Underground Railroad but agree that it’s a strong possibility.

      Liked by 2 people

    • cjdevore

      The Sport of Kings was published in May of 2016 and therefore is not a contender. I’d read it shortly before last year’s longlist was announced and was surprised it wasn’t on there. I thought it had Man Booker potential.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. !!!! I’m sooo excited for this ahhh! I love your predictions and thoughts. The way you’ve spoken about previous winning authors and that Bailey’s overlap!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Have my fingers crossed for The Nix – my favorite book so far this year!


  5. I have spent the first half of this year re-reading classics, for which one could blame Bob Dylan’s Nobel acceptance speech, and also knitting, so I am completely out of touch. Might The Dark Flood Rides by Margaret Drabble be eligible? Yes, I agree Sebastian Barry is a strong contender. I shall be watching the publication of the longlist with eagerness. I imagine it will have a lot of novels I have not read yet, and I shall enjoy sharing my views.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes I think the Drabble is eligible but I haven’t read it yet.


      • The Drabble is an interesting book. It follows the life and friends on one woman, Fran, who is (as it happens) the same age as me, as she contemplates ageing and dying; there are several strands which are carried through her various friends and her children and it is both topical, contemplative and insightful. I do rather deplore the endless use of extra adjectives for (nearly) everything…I shall blog about it in more detail soon.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. The only book I have read on the list is Lincoln in the Bardo. I wasn’t a fan. It was just OK.


  7. That time already?? I was just looking at His Bloody Project, ebook was so one sale…


  8. I’ve posted my selection today, wishes not predictions though! We overlap on The Conversations and The Nix. Very pleased to hear that the new Messud matches The Woman Upstairs.


  9. Looking forward to the thriving discussions this will provoke and the recommendations, I have Swing Time to read and I’m in the middle of The Power now, otherwise I’ll wait and pick a few from the recommendations,thanks for sharing your favourite reads so far!


  10. Thanks for this – I can never keep track of which are eligible! I thought Swing Time was absolutely brilliant, and it seems to have been oddly overlooked for prizes so far, so I really hope to see that on the list. (I was less impressed by Autumn.) Days Without End has its issues, but would also be a worthy longlistee IMO.


  11. ‘The possibility of discovering brilliant new books and authors is why I continue to follow literary award longlists with interest’ – I only had this conversation today at work with a customer who ended up purchasing His Bloody Project on my recommendation. I would never have read HPB if not for the shortlist nomination – the cover along puts me off, but it sounds like a crime novel, when it’s not really that. Well, it is it, but it’s so much more and it has stayed with me ever since.


  12. lonesomereadereric

    Like you, I’m hoping there will be some novels on the list which haven’t been on my radar at all so I’ll be able to discover some exciting books I wouldn’t have read otherwise. I think both of the debuts you mention have a strong possibility though I’ve not read them yet. I don’t think The Lesser Bohemians is eligible because it was published before the date when entries were accepted for this year’s prize. I’m really hoping to see Rachel Seiffert’s novel A Boy in Winter and A Book of American Martyrs by Joyce Carol Oates on the list too!


    • Thanks for pointing out my error re The Lesser Bohemians – for some reason I thought it was published in October last year rather than September. Looks like a good list overall and we both did well with our predictions!


  13. Well done! Quite a few hits. I am sorry not to see Margaret Drabble, but delighted to find Kamila Shamsie on the list. For once the only one I have read is the Sebastian Barry. Will be up at Primrose Hill Bookshop to collect as many as are available and will start blogging on them soon. Not many surprises though, is that a pity?


    • Yes, I’m surprised by how many I picked out – I doubt that will happen again any time soon! The only one I hadn’t heard of at all is Elmet, and yes I would have liked to see maybe two or three others that were completely new to me on there…


  14. Pingback: The Man Booker Prize 2017 Longlist | A Little Blog of Books

  15. Ana

    Ok, wow … this was pretty good. Can’t wait to see who is short listed. I still want to read Lincoln and the Bardo, Autumn and Solar Bones. I just finished Exit West and although I really enjoyed it I’m not sure it will win. Good possibility for short list though. I hope so.

    Thank you for finding my blog. Have me an opportunity to find yours.



  16. It must be extremely satisfying to see how many of these you were right about. Now, do you have any prediction for tomorrow’s lotto? 🙂


  17. Pingback: The Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist 2018 | A Little Blog of Books

  18. Pingback: The Man Booker Prize 2018 Longlist: Predictions, Possibilities and Preferences | A Little Blog of Books

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