The Man Booker Prize 2016: Round-Up

With the announcement of the winner this evening, here is a round up and some final thoughts on the Man Booker shortlist:

Hot Milk

A weird and wonderful, very contemporary, abstract analysis of female sexuality and different female relationships. Levy’s style is much like DeLillo but far more readable, making her a top contender. As this is her second nomination for the prize, Levy has been an early favourite to win.

His Bloody Project 

The second novel of Graeme Macrae Burnet has certainly been an underdog, going from a small Scottish publisher Contraband, to being the biggest seller of the shortlist according to Amazon. The novel has been incredibly well received by readers, but the question is whether commercial success will translate to prize-winning?


Very engaging and easy to read, as well as entertaining, which comes as no surprise after author Ottessa Moshfegh admits the novel was an exercise in writing a best-seller. While there is no doubt the seeds of success are there, the big question will be whether Moshfegh has pushed her luck with this confession.

The Sellout 

An exploration of ‘post-racial’ and ‘post-Obama’ America, you cannot argue that this book is ahead of the game for contemporary fiction, with Obama not yet out of office. While this book couldn’t be more necessary or relevant in the light of the current political landscape in both America and much of the West, Beatty’s novel seems to be lagging behind the others.

Do Not Say We Have Nothing

Madeleine Thien’s epic tale of 20th Century China is the only book so far touted as being worthy of the Booker Prize for its ‘literary’ quality. Last minute betting has put the odds in Thien’s favour, emerging ahead of Hot Milk, which was the early favourite.

All That Man Is

Winner of the Gordon Burn Prize at Durham Book Festival, this novel already has a prize under its belt, However. it has been controversial due to its form, with many arguing that it reads more like short stories than a comprehensive work, though the author has firmly maintained that it is a novel, making it an interesting nominee.

Final Thoughts?

I have only read three of the nominees – Eileen, Hot Milk ,and His Bloody Project, but have been keeping up with wider discussions. Do Not Say We Have Nothing currently seems like a favourite to win, but I am hoping Burnet does as His Bloody Project was a fantastic, clever, and incredibly well-written book. As well as the commercial success which shows it to be a best-seller, trumping Moshfegh’s attempt, I also think it has the literary quality to be a real contender. I have heard very little about The Sellout, although its relevance in the current social and political landscape shouldn’t be underestimated. I think that All That Man Is sounds incredibly interesting and I love the idea of the format, though it isn’t completely revolutionary – Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine is a novel which is similarly structured through different short stories of the characters. Equally, I would find it disappointing if a book which largely centres on European male experience was to win, particularly after a similarly white, male and western-centric choice with Dylan winning the Nobel. At least if Burnet were to win, his novel deals with the nuance of mental illness within the justice system – something still very relevant today, and it would also champion small publishers, not to mention regional writing considering the Scottish heritage of the novel.

For Burnet to win would also make the Booker a bit more accessible – it is clearly the people’s favourite, whereas another ‘typical’ Booker winner would confirm the Prize’s ‘high flown’ and ‘literary’ status. Overall, my money is on Levy or Thien to win, although I would love for it to be Burnet, as the novel is my favourite so far (I will try to read them all!). However, even if he doesn’t it is clear he has already found success!


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