May 30, 2018

The shortlist for the “Golden” Man Booker prize has been announced


The shortlist for the Golden Man Booker —a one-time-only literary prize that is meant to determine the best novel of the past fifty years—has been announced. As reported earlier on this very site, the prize is brought to us by the people behind the Man Booker, the UKs prestigious yearly prize for fiction.

The five judges who determined the shortlist were each assigned a decade from the past fifty years, choosing their selection from the Man Booker winners in that particular decade. Announced this past weekend at the Hay Festival in Wales, the finalists are: In a Free State by V.S. Naipaul, Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively, The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, and Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.

As Vanessa Thorpe writes over at the Guardian, the list contains both predictable hits and surprises. She writes, “Lively’s book, a story of loss and desire set around the time of the second world war, is perhaps the biggest surprise,” beating out some fierce competition such as Salman Rushdie and Kazuo Ishiguro.  

The final winner will be determined by a vote open to the public until June 25th at the Man Booker website, and will be announced at the fiftieth Man Booker ceremony, on July 8th.

While there are sure to be disagreements over the eventual winner, the Golden Booker highlights a number of worthwhile books, many of them still frequently read years after publication. Perhaps Robert McCrum, the former literary editor who selected In a Free State to represent the seventies on the list. says it best: “The golden Booker is a stunt, of course, but a surprisingly worthwhile one. It’s a vindication of 50 years’ debate about the nature of so-called literary fiction. Prizes offer an odd kind of lit crit, but I’d say that almost all the novels the judges had to read, reread and consider have stood the test of time.”



Stephanie DeLuca is the director of publicity at Melville House.