First of all, I am absolutely gutted that Charlotte Wood's The Natural Way of Things didn't make the list. It was wishful thinking on my part that this important book which created such a splash in Australia would ripple across the oceans all the way to the UK.
The big hoopla this year is that JM Coetzee is in the running and if he succeeds it will be a record breaking third time for this author. As South African Coetzee now makes Australia home, we can proudly claim him as one of our own. So this is some solace for Wood's snub. I am a fan of Coetzee and have particularly admired his Disgrace and Waiting for the Barbarians.
Other familiar faces include Debra Levy, Elizabeth Strout and AL Kennedy. Debut novelists listed are David Means, Wyl Menmuir, Ottessa Moshfegh and Virginia Reeves. Great to see gender balance in the nominations. There are a few books that I thought would have made the cut but didn't: Booker favourite Julian Barnes' The Noise of Time; Annie Proulx's Barkskins and Don DeLillo for Zero K.
I have not read any of the longlist yet, but there are two that I am most curious about. The North Water by Ian McGuire is a story about a crew on a whaling ship in the 1850s. Despite being a dedicated landlubber, I have always enjoyed books with a nautical theme. I have heard great things about the McGuire's evocative writing, so I look forward to reading this. Update July 2017: read review.
The other one that really appeals is His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet. The author was researching his family history in Inverness and came across an ancestor who had committed triple murder. While awaiting trial, he documented his life, and the author has used these diaries as the basis for this novel. I am intrigued. Update October 2016: read review.
Here is the longlist:
- The Sellout - Paul Beatty (US)
- The Schooldays of Jesus - JM Coetzee (Australia)
- Serious Sweet - AL Kennedy (UK)
- Hot Milk - Deborah Levy (UK)
- His Bloody Project - Graeme Macrae Burnet (UK)
- The North Water - Ian McGuire (UK)
- Hystopia - David Means (US)
- The Many - Wyl Menmuir (UK)
- Eileen - Ottessa Moshfegh (US)
- Work Like Any Other - Virginia Reeves (US)
- My Name is Lucy Barton - Elizabeth Strout (US)
- All That Man Is - David Szalay (Canada/UK)
- Do Not Say We Have Nothing - Madeleine Thien (Canada)
The six book shortlist will be announced on 13 September, with the winner announced on 25 October 2016.