September 10, 2014

The Brits are going to be so mad when Karen Joy Fowler wins the Booker


Uncle Sam loves books. Via Shutterstock.

Uncle Sam loves books. Via Shutterstock.

Just kidding, Ali Smith‘s been shortlisted twice before, which means she’s not just going to win this year, she’s going to win for another year a few books later. Or maybe Howard Jacobson will walk away with the award the second time.

In case you didn’t hear, the best gambling event of the year—the Man Booker Prize—released its shortlist yesterday. It’s time to talk smack with our English-speaking brethren around the world.

Here’s the full list:

Joshua Ferris, To Rise at a Decent Hour

Richard Flanagan (he’s Australian), The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Howard Jacobson, J

Neel Mukharjee, The Lives of Others

Ali Smith, How to Be Both

There was so much noise about making writers outside the Commonwealth eligible for the prize, it’s hard to imagine that a few wouldn’t make the shortlist, so now Americans are almost in the majority with 2/6, or 33.3%. But Mukharjee, Jacobson, and Smith are all British, so the UK holds 50% of the list. (I can calculate some other basic percentages for you, if you like.) Jacobson and Smith are currently favored at 3/1 odds, according to William Hill.

As my a MobyLives report noted earlier this summer, many longlisted titles weren’t released in the States at the time of the first announcement. Publishers know to react to the shortlist, and already two U.S. publishers have pushed up their pub dates: Hogarth moved Jacobson to October 14 and Pantheon bumped Smith to December 2. (We can guess there was a backup production schedule in the works in case these books made the shortlist.)

The BBC reacted to this news before the shortlist even arrived, running the headline “Commonwealth authors edged out” when the longlist was announced in July. We anticipate plenty of passive aggressive headlines before the winners are announced October 14.



Kirsten Reach was an editor at Melville House.