The Booker Prize 2019: Predictions, Possibilities and Preferences

The Booker Prize 2019The Booker Prize longlist (no longer sponsored by the Man Group) for 2019 is due to be announced on Wednesday 24th July which means it’s time for another game of what Julian Barnes once termed “posh bingo”. I’ve come up with a list of predictions in terms of what I think could be some strong possibilities alongside my own personal preferences, based on a few eligible books I have read in recent months as well as ones I haven’t. As ever, I have no idea which novels have actually been submitted for consideration.

Of the eligible books I have read, one of the most striking titles is Throw Me To The Wolves by Patrick McGuinness which is a literary crime novel loosely based on what happened to Christopher Jefferies when he was wrongly accused of murder and follows the 2011 shortlisting for McGuinness’s debut novel The Last Hundred Days. I would also like to see Little by Edward Carey on the longlist which is a fictionalised account of the early life of Madame Tussaud.

A Booker Prize shortlist wouldn’t be complete without at least one left-field choice of some sort, whether it’s the surprise inclusion of “popular” fiction, such as last year’s Snap by Belinda Bauer, or a book that is virtually unknown beforehand such as His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet. Of novels that are likely to have a wide readership regardless of literary prize success, I would like to see Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid on the longlist which I reviewed last week, although this would be dependent on the judging panel’s fondness of 1970s pop nostalgia and its unconventional documentary format.

Throw Me to the Wolves Patrick McGuinnessLittle Edward CareyDaisy Jones & The Six Taylor Jenkins ReidDucks, Newburyport Lucy Ellmann






Of novels by less well-known authors and published by smaller independent presses, Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann published earlier this month is a 1,000 page novel written as a stream-of-consciousness about a housewife from Ohio. I haven’t read it, but it is already on the way towards becoming a word-of-mouth hit this summer, and a place on the Booker Prize longlist would certainly be a boost for its indie publisher Galley Beggar Press. A Perfect Explanation by Eleanor Anstruther is far shorter in length but the debut novel published by Salt sounds very intriguing and is based on the true story of the granddaughter of the eighth Duke of Argyll who sold her son to her sister for £500.

Publishing date eligibility for this year’s prize runs from 1 October 2018 to 30 September 2019, so The Testaments by Margaret Atwood which is due to be published in September could be on there. It is a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale which was shortlisted in 1986 although Atwood has said her new novel is not based on the second season of the TV series. Also due in September, The Dutch House by Ann Patchett is already receiving positive early reviews and tells the story of a family who live on a large estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia over five decades.

A Perfect Explanation Eleanor AnstrutherThe Testaments Margaret AtwoodThe Dutch House Ann Patchett






There is usually some overlap with the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist and I think Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli could be a strong contender and is about a road trip across the United States and the plight of those trying to cross the Mexico-US border. There could also be further recognition for Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi which was longlisted for both the Women’s Prize and the Wellcome Book Prize this year and is about a young Nigerian woman who may or may not have bipolar disorder.

Lost Children Archive Valeria LuiselliFreshwater Akwaeke EmeziThe Hiding Game Naomi Wood






2019 might be a strong year for historical fiction on the Booker Prize longlist. I am keen to read The Hiding Game by Naomi Wood set in the Bauhaus art school in 1920s Germany and I like the sound of Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor which imagines how Bram Stoker attempts to pursue his literary ambitions while working for Henry Irving as General Manager at the Lyceum Theatre in London in the 1870s and The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan in which a wealthy landowner in 1793 advertises for someone to live in his cellar for seven years without any human contact. Alternatively, for something more up-to-the-minute, The Wall by John Lanchester is a dystopian novel about the terrifying possibilities of a post-Brexit world.

Shadowplay Joseph O’ConnorThe Warlow Experiment Alix NathanThe Wall John Lanchester






Which books do you want to see on this year’s longlist?


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28 responses to “The Booker Prize 2019: Predictions, Possibilities and Preferences

  1. Great post! I think Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys is a deserved shoo-in and based on the first 25%, I’d love to see Tea Obrecht’s Inland there. I think Daisy Jones has enough substance to be the surprise pick and I always have time for anything Ann Patchett. I wasn’t won over by Lost Children Archive and so hope that it isn’t longlisted for this one as well, but I think it has a good chance.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t read any of the books you mention, although Little is in my TBR pile and several of the other historical fiction titles are on my wishlist. Do you think the judges read these sort of posts and then look for a book no-one has mentioned LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I see we’ve overlapped on several titles, Clare. I’m sure you’re right about the Atwood although I’m always wary of sequels. I haven’t read the Ellman (and suspect I won’t) but wouldn’t be sorry to see it on the list, if only in acknowledgement of the sheer chutzpah of writing such a book!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. LJ Conrad

    What exactly is the accepted difference between popular and literary fiction?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “posh bingo” – I love it! I’m not even attempting at making predictions but will look forward to the longlist announcement.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve only read Daisy Jones which I loved. I’ve got copies of several you mention (Ducks, Warlow, Lost Children) and love the sound of The Wall. I’d add Deborah Levy’s new one out next month The Man Who Saw Everything.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Scott Boyd

    Thanks for the list. I didn’t know the books by Anstruther, O’Connor or Ward. All of them look fascinating. I hope to see Luiselli on the list, and I loved “Little” but thought it may be too mainstream for this award. It would be refreshing to see it (or any of your historical fiction options) included. Also very much liked “Girl, Woman, Other”, “The Porpoise”, “Insurrecto” and “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous”. Two books I would like to see on the list – “Spring” by Ali Smith and “Women Talking” by Miriam Towes – may not be eligible.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The one thing about the Booker that I can predict: my predictions about who makes the long and shortlist will be wildly inaccurate. The judges seem to go out of their way t o chose books I’ve never heard of and to ignore those I have….

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What intriguing options. You’ve put a lot of thought into this. I would love to see Little make the longlist, and I’ll definitely be reading Patchett and Wood. I never bother with predictions as I never seem to have read enough of the high-profile releases, and I know I’d only get maybe one right!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Why not Gerald Murnane’s “A Season on Earth”? He’s one of the best writers in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You did well to get three of your selections onto the list. What do you think of the other longlisted titles?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: The Booker Prize 2019 Longlist | A Little Blog of Books

  13. Pingback: The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan | A Little Blog of Books

  14. Pingback: My Books of the Year 2019 | A Little Blog of Books

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