Librarian favorite Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers is one of the six books on the shortlist for the Booker Prize, announced this morning in London. In reporting on the selections, The Guardian calls it, “a darkly comic wild west odyssey of two cowboy assassins,” and “the strongest wild card on the list,” but manages to insult both U.S. and Canadian authors by saying, “American novels are, controversially, excluded from the Booker – deWitt is Canadian – but juries have a weakness for their grand, sometimes lurid, horizons.” DeWitt currently lives in the grand, but hardly lurid, Oregon.

The judges celebrated the fact that four of the titles on the list are published by smaller independent U.K. houses; that is not true in the U.S., where three are from divisions of Random House, one is from HarperCollins, one from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and one does not yet have a U.S. publisher.

The winner of the £50,000 prize will be announced on Oct. 18.

The Sisters Brothers
Patrick Dewitt
Retail Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Ecco – (2011-04-26)
ISBN / EAN: 9780062041265/

Audio, Dreamscape; Large Print released in Aug. by Thorndike.

Below are the other five titles on the list, with U.S. publication information:

The Sense of an Ending
Julian Barnes
Retail Price: $23.95
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Knopf – (2012-01-24)
ISBN / EAN: 0307957128 / 9780307957122

The Sense of an Ending is considered the favorite. It is scheduled to appear in the U.S. three months after the award is announced.


Jamrach’s Menagerie: A Novel
Carol Birch
Retail Price: $25.95
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Doubleday – (2011-06-14)
ISBN / EAN: 9780385534406 / 038553440X

The Guardian reporter notes, “I’m still carrying my torch for Carol Birch’s Jamrach’s Menagerie; she’s an underrated author with an impressive backlist, and this tale of 19th-century naturalism and danger at sea is in some ways classic Booker material. She brings a freshness and vibrancy to the historical novel that is a pleasure to behold.” Few of Birch’s eleven novels have been published in the U.S. The  Washington Post‘s Ron Charles says that is unfortunate, since the glimpse we get from this one is of an accomplished author. He calls the book, “a moving, fantastically exciting sea tale that takes you back to those great 19th-century stories that first convinced you ‘there is no frigate like a book.’ ”


Pigeon English
Stephen Kelman
Retail Price: $24.00
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – (2011-06-27)
ISBN / EAN: 9780547500607

The Guardian points out that Pigeon English is the most currently relevant of the titles; “narrated by an 11-year-old Ghanaian immigrant on a south London estate, [it] brings a comic tone (and an ill-advised talking pigeon) to its child’s-eye view of gang violence. The recent riots give it added bite.” It was reviewed warmly in most of the prepub review media, but got scant attention from the consumer press here, with a review in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, followed by another in the Cleveland Plain Dealer after the longlist announcement. It fared much better with reviewers in the U.K. Rights have been sold to Ridley Scott to develop it into a BBC TV movie.


Snowdrops: A Novel
A.D. Miller
Retail Price: $24.95
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Doubleday – (2011-02-22)
ISBN / EAN: 9780385533447

This debut is compared by the publisher to The Talented Mr. Ripley and Gorky Park. The Boston Globe reviewer sniffed, “If that comparison is apt, I won’t bother reading the former and the latter isn’t as good a book as I remember. Snowdrops has its strengths. But in spite of a compelling narrative voice, the book has no emotional core. In precisely the parts where it’s supposed to be most wrenching, there’s nothing.”


Esi Edugyan, Half Blood Blues, (Serpents Tail), has not yet been published in the U.S. The Guardian ‘s reporter dismissed it, saying, “I’m surprised to see the other Canadian on the shortlist, Esi Edugyan; our reviewer thought Half Blood Blues, the story of a black jazz musician in Nazi Germany, fascinating material but a missed opportunity.” But Jonathan Ruppin from the independent book chain Foyles said it would be a particularly deserving winner.

Another librarian favorite, Alan Hollinghurst’s The Stranger’s Child, (Knopf, 10/11/11; RH Audio) was dropped from the list. Once regarded as the top runner to win the award, The Guardian says of its elimination, “We knew from the longlist that this was a Booker keen on surprises, but with the shortlist omission of Alan Hollinghurst the judges have sprung their biggest surprise yet.”

The Stranger’s Child
Alan Hollinghurst
Retail Price: $27.95
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Knopf – (2011-10-11)
ISBN / EAN: 0307272761 / 9780307272768

Also considered a notable absence from the shortlist, is Sebastian Barry’s On Canaan’s Side, (Viking,  9/8/11; Large Print, Thorndike, Dec., ISBN 9781410443465; Blackstone Audio),  is coming out here this week. The Minneapolis Star Tribune calls it “a wonderful introduction” to this important Irish writer’s work. (This is a good opportunity to bring more attention to the books on the longlist through a display; a list of all the titles, with U.S. publishing information, is available here).

On Canaan’s Side: A Novel
Sebastian Barry
Retail Price: $25.95
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult – (2011-09-08)
ISBN / EAN: 0670022926 / 9780670022922

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