In the collage above, you can see the six books the (Wo)Man Booker Shadow Panel has determined are the best of all thirteen from the long list. Each one of us has at least one favorite represented in the collection; all of us agree that these are the novels which should ultimately be considered for the prize.
The best part of reading the Man Booker Prize long list for the last five weeks has been reading with these ladies: Frances, Nicole, Rebecca, and Teresa. The five of us have read, and tweeted, and sent each other messages since the long list was announced on July 27. In the process, these fellow bibliophiles have broadened my horizons immeasurably.
I have discovered that I am an emotional reader, a reader who focuses on the book more with her heart than her head. And in the last week or so, I have grown to see that I need not bring my agenda to what I read, that I should read with an open mind rather than taking things personally. What an author has written is not necessarily accusatory; there is the possibility (!) that an author is writing to reflect our times. Our culture. Our morality. When I look at a book through a narrow lens made up of only my beliefs, I am not doing the author, or myself, justice. I have shut out another one of the very reasons I love to read, which is to grow intellectually.
So I thank them, each one, for hearing my point of view nonjudgmentally, for openly discussing their interpretations, for each one contributing to a short list of six with which I wholeheartedly concur.
Now we just have to decide which one of these six should be declared the best, a decision that the official judges will also have to determine, by October 25, 2016.