The Man Booker Prize longlist will be announced on Tuesday 24th July and the annual guessing game of “posh bingo” commences once again. When considering which books could make the cut, I have been thinking about predictions in terms of likely possibilities and my personal preferences – some I have already read, and some I haven’t. I doubt I will better my predictions last year in which I correctly guessed six out of the 13 “Man Booker dozen” longlisted titles including the eventual winner Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. As ever, I have no knowledge of which books have actually been submitted for consideration so my predictions could just as easily be entirely wrong this time.
I would be surprised if the longlist was as dominated by established authors as it was last year. However, Winter by Ali Smith remains a stand-out preference for me, even if the judges decide to plump for something different following Autumn being shortlisted just last year. Another possibility is The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst about a sex scandal involving students at Oxford University during the Blitz and the consequences this has for their families years down the line.
Overall, I would prefer to see daring debuts such as Sight by Jessie Greengrass and Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday on there instead, although the latter is a book I admired more than enjoyed. There is often some overlap with the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist from earlier this year and I would like to see the The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar on the longlist too, or perhaps Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward which also won the National Book Award for Fiction.
It’s more difficult to predict the likelihood of novels I haven’t read, but the Brexit-themed Crudo by Olivia Laing and Native American saga There There by Tommy Orange are two debut novels which have been receiving lots of positive reviews. As Val McDermid is on the judging panel this year, perhaps her crime fiction background will see her make a case for the mind-bending murder mystery The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton.
Although books with cross-generational appeal are rare in Man Booker Prize longlists, Philip Pullman is an author who has successfully bucked this trend in the past when The Amber Spyglass was longlisted in 2001. The first volume of the Book of Dust trilogy La Belle Sauvage was well received by young and older readers alike when it was published in October last year and I hope it is a contender for the prize.
As ever, books which have yet to be published may appear on the longlist, as the eligibility period runs from 1st October 2017 to 30th September 2018. I’m hoping it could finally be Kate Atkinson’s year for her latest novel Transcription due in September about a young woman who is recruited by an obscure department of the Secret Service during the Second World War. Sally Rooney’s second novel Normal People and Sarah Moss’s sixth novel Ghost Wall are also due to be published in the next few weeks and are two of my most highly anticipated books of 2018.
Do you agree with my predictions? Which books would you like to see on the Man Booker Prize longlist this year?