Hot(ish) off the press...
Desai, Kiran The Inheritance of Loss - Hamish Hamilton
Grenville, Kate The Secret River - Canongate
Hyland, M.J. Carry Me Down - Canongate
Matar, Hisham In the Country of Men - Viking
St Aubyn, Edward Mother’s Milk - Picador
Waters, Sarah The Night Watch - Virago
Is Canongate the new literary tiger? Scotland's finest - having given us "Life of Pi" - has two on the list. M.J. Hyland, I wasn't aware of at all, and yet she lives in Manchester apparently - though this might be a mistake in the press release, elsewhere she's said to live in Rome - she's Australian anyway, or Irish, amazing how everyone claims you as their own when you become successful - obviously the Lennox Lewis of literature. Kiran Desai is "Martin" to her mother Anita's "Kingsley," though possibly doesn't now need to continue on her creative writing course! and one is immediately worried when you realise 3 of the writers are younger than me. Ah, but what about the books? They sound, hmmm, unengaging - 2 historical novels, and 3 set outside of the UK, which is very Booker. I read a little of "The Night Watch" when it was in the Granta young novelist edition and didn't like it very much, but I couldn't get a handle on "Fingersmith" either - I think Waters is just not to my taste. Maybe its the relative youth of the list, but the overwhelming subject seems to be (unhappy) families. A quiet Booker then? Possibly no bad thing - this pantomime every year gets a little disproportionate (though I'm rather fond of that same pantomime). And if it looks a little more Orange than Booker, then perhaps having 4 out of 6 female writers might be the reason. Us poor men, perhaps we need our own prize... someone tell Carling Black Label.
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