This year’s race for the Man Booker Prize promises to be one of the most intriguing in recent memory, with six extraordinary novels being named in a shortlist that shunned big names and early favourites Marilynne Robinson, Andrew O’Hagan and former winner Anne Enright.
Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life remains the early favourite to take out the major prize, with Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread, Tom McCarthy’s Satin Island, The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma, Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings and Sunjeev Sahota’s The Year of the Runaways rounding out the shortlist for the most prestigious book prize in the world.
Haven’t read them all? Be your own judge, and pick up all the books in the 2015 Man Booker Prize today!
The Man Booker Prize 2015 Longlist
A Little Life
by Hanya Yanagihara
Brace yourself for the most astonishing, challenging, upsetting and profoundly moving book in many a season. An epic about love and friendship in the twenty-first century that goes into some of the darkest places fiction has ever traveled and yet somehow improbably breaks through into the light.
When four graduates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome-but that will define his life forever.
In a remarkable and precise prose, Yanagihara has fashioned a tragic and transcendent hymn to brotherly love, a masterful depiction of heartbreak, and a dark examination of the tyranny of memory and the limits of human endurance.
A Spool of Blue Thread
by Anne Tyler
This is the way Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she and Red fell in love that day in July 1959. The whole family on the porch, relaxed, half-listening as their mother tells the same tale they have heard so many times before. And yet this gathering is different. Abby and Red are getting older, and decisions must be made about how best to look after them and their beloved family home. They’ve all come, even Denny, who can usually be relied on only to please himself.
From that porch we spool back through three generations of the Whitshanks, witnessing the events, secrets and unguarded moments that have come to define who and what they are. And while all families like to believe they are special, round that kitchen table over all those years we see played out the hopes and fears, the rivalries and tensions of families everywhere – the essential nature of family life.
by Tom McCarthy
Meet U. — a talented and uneasy figure currently pimping his skills to an elite consultancy in contemporary London. His employers advise everyone from big businesses to governments, and, to this end, expect their ‘corporate anthropologist’ to help decode and manipulate the world around them — all the more so now that a giant, epoch-defining project is in the offing.
Instead, U. spends his days procrastinating, meandering through endless buffer-zones of information and becoming obsessed by the images with which the world bombards him on a daily basis: oil spills, African traffic jams, roller-blade processions, zombie parades. Is there, U. wonders, a secret logic holding all these images together — a codex that, once cracked, will unlock the master-meaning of our age? Might it have something to do with South Pacific Cargo Cults, or the dead parachutists in the news? Perhaps; perhaps not.
As U. oscillates between the visionary and the vague, brilliance and bullshit, Satin Island emerges, an impassioned and exquisite novel for our disjointed times.
by Chigozie Obioma
The encounter a dangerous local madman who predicts that the oldest brother will be killed by another. This prophesy breaks their strong bond, and unleashes a tragic chain of events of almost mythic proportions.
Passionate and bold, The Fishermen is a breathtakingly beautiful novel, firmly rooted in the best of African storytelling.
With this powerful debut, Chigozie Obioma emerges as one of the most original new voices in world literature.
A Brief History of Seven Killings
by Marlon James
Jamaica, 1976: Seven men storm Bob Marley’s house with machine guns blazing. The reggae superstar survives, but leaves Jamaica the following day, not to return for two years.
Inspired by this near-mythic event, A Brief History of Seven Killings is an imagined oral biography, told by ghosts, witnesses, killers, members of parliament, drug dealers, conmen, beauty queens, FBI and CIA agents, reporters, journalists, and even Keith Richards’ drug dealer. Marlon James’s dazzling novel is a tour de force. It traverses strange landscapes and shady characters, as motivations are examined – and questions asked – in a masterpiece of imagination.
The Year of the Runaways
by Sunjeev Sahota
The Year of the Runaways tells of the bold dreams and daily struggles of an unlikely family thrown together by circumstance. Thirteen young men live in a house in Sheffield, each in flight from India and in desperate search of a new life. Tarlochan, a former rickshaw driver, will say nothing about his past in Bihar; and Avtar has a secret that binds him to protect the choatic Randeep. Randeep, in turn, has a visa-wife in a flat on the other side of town: a clever, devout woman whose cupboards are full of her husband’s clothes, in case the immigration men surprise her with a call.
Sweeping between India and England, and between childhood and the present day, Sunjeev Sahota’s generous, unforgettable novel is – as with Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance – a story of dignity in the face of adversity and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit.
About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
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