The (Wo)Man Shadow Jury Comes to a Decision

Frances, Teresa, Rebecca, Nicole and I comprised the Shadow Jury for the (Wo)Man Booker Prize. They did a more thorough job than I of reading the long list before the short list is officially announced on Tuesday, September 15. Both Frances and Teresa read all 13 of the books. I know that Rebecca read at least 11. Here is the list of top six books agreed upon by the five shadow jury members:

Did You Ever Have A Family? by Bill Clegg

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

The Year of The Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota

Sleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy

Satin Island by Tom McCarthy

Lila by Marilynne Robinson

The inclusion of Did You Ever Have A Family? was unanimous, and all who had read A Brief History of Seven Killings highly favored it. Indeed, as I read more and more of it now, I can see what a fine work it is.

How fun it will be to see the official short list on Tuesday. To compare my thoughts, and my fellow Shadow Jury’s thoughts, with the judges’ decision.

13 thoughts on “The (Wo)Man Shadow Jury Comes to a Decision”

  1. You did far better than I did. I managed three and am currently on the fourth Did You Ever Have a Family. So with that last one as the exception, none of the books I read have made it to your shortlist. I’m surprised A Little Life isn’t on there too..


    1. By reading only 8, I read the fewest of the list from any of the Shadow Jury. They amaze me in their reading prowess! But, three is still better than most people have read. A Little Life didn’t make it primarily because we wanted one of our members to have her vote for Robinson’s Lila. As Frances said in her post, it’s all about compromise when you’re part of a group. And the discussion made it all worth it.


  2. That’s an interesting selection! A Little Life would definitely be on my list, but I can see it is dividing opinion so might not make the shortlist. I would prefer it to be swapped with Lila, but I’m biased as I’m not a Robinson fan. This is the first year I haven’t attempted to read the entire longlist. I’ll be interested to see how many of your selections are right and how many other books from the list call to me in future months.


    1. I would prefer A Little Life to be swapped in, too, but as I haven’t yet read Lila I’m not sure which one I’d take out. I have a feeling I’ll really like Lila and A Brief History of Seven Killings when I get to them. It seems with Robinson, people either like her immensely or not at all.

      This is the first year I have attempted to read the Booker list, and I wish I would have read more before the short list is announced. But, at least I can have them all read by the time the winner is declared. It is so enriching to read with others, to share different (or similar) points of view. Nicole’s post on Satin Island helped me appreciate it much more than when I just read it on my own.

      Some year I’d like to read for the Bailey’s Prize, too. Just putting it out there.


    1. One of the nice things about Did You Ever Have a Family? is that it’s not 900 pages long. Of course, that’s not all that qualifies it as marvelous, but, you will not find it taking up every reading moment as A Little Life did for me. I’m glad you’re at the top of the hold list at your library. I’m usually patron number 680+. 😉


    1. Oh, Claire, your compliment means much to me, as I tried my best but could only read eight! Two of the five of us read all thirteen, and then they could make a well grounded prediction. Frances, in fact, got four of the six books on the official list “right”. At any rate, I will carry on, reading the as yet unread books for review. Still, I doubt any of them will top A Little Life for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What happened to A Little Life? I LOVED that book! Of course, I have yet to read any of the others, so I am quite biased as to which book should win 🙂 Looks like a great shortlist – varied and interesting. I’ll definitely have to add a few of those titles to my TBR list.


    1. Well, Nadia, now you hit on a point. I wanted A Little Life, of course, and so did two of the other shadow panel members, but it was agreed to include Lila in its place. Part of being on a panel requires compromise, as Frances so eloquently said in her post. But, between you and I (and anyone else who reads my blog) I am all for A Little Life. Although, I’ve read many tweets that say if A Little Life wins, a few bloggers will be in “despair”. It is a book which doesn’t touch anyone lightly, even if they don’t like it.


    1. Parrish Lantern, I love your comment! I had no doubt that an author you respect would make it to an official list. He is carrying on, and while I don’t think he will win, I will readily admit that his writing is innovative. Even if I don’t like it. Maybe, like broccoli, it will grow on me. 🙂


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