The (Wo)Man Booker Shadow Panel Arrives at Six Finalists, and Deserves a Heartfelt Thank You from Me


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: FrancesNicoleRebecca,  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.

8 thoughts on “The (Wo)Man Booker Shadow Panel Arrives at Six Finalists, and Deserves a Heartfelt Thank You from Me”

  1. I havent read Paul Beattys novel so can’t judge whether that deserves to be on the list. Yiur list has three matches with my own – Lucy Barton, The Many and North Water. I’ll disagree with your choice of All that Man Is. Some of the individual stories were good but overall this lacked a cohesive theme and I would hesitate to even call it a novel


    1. Sadly, All That Man Is never came from Amazon (I should have ordered from the Book Depository as my fellow jury panelists did), so I didn’t read that one from our list. Here I went with the panel’s vote.

      As for The Sellout, that’s the book that frustrated me the most. I’d be interested in your thoughts even if you read only the first 30 pages. But only if you can get it from the library. 🙂


  2. I’ve only read the Strout, which I LOVE. I have The Many on my kindle and a copy of Eileen – I’m looking forward to both of them. I think its wonderful you have such a great group of fellow book lovers to chat about these books with. And, that’s so great you’ve learned more about the type of reader you are 🙂 I can’t wait to find out which book you all choose.


    1. Although My Name is Lucy Barton is my favorite of the bunch, I am quite taken with The Many. It was an elusive read for me, deceptively simple that in many ways reminds me of Japanese literature. There’s atmospheric writing and ambiguity and dream sequences everywhere; I am planning on rereading it soon.

      As for the one true winner? We aren’t close to deciding yet!


  3. My friend, I feel that you are too hard on yourself here. You are one of the most astute readers I know, and your keen observations surely do not come solely from your heart. I loved reading with you again this time, and am happy that are conversation is still weeks from being over. Cannot wait to see the official shortlist in the morning. I’m expecting surprises.


    1. Thanks for affirmations of some astute thinking, wbich I surely try to do. Yet sometimes emotions get in the way of rational thinking when it comes to my reading. Let’s just say that’s the Italian in me, okay? I am touched, though, that we all received none another’s points of view so well. Thank you for including me in this endeavor, a huge highlight of my reading year!


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