Booker Shortlist Next Week

The titles that have made the transition to the Booker shortlist, whittled down from the longlist, will be announced this coming Tuesday.

Currently, in the lead at UK bookies is Hilary Mantel’s Bring up the Bodies, with 7/2 odds at Ladbrokes. Close behind is Well Self’s Umbrella at 4/1. It will be published by Grove in the US on 12/10 (see our full list of titles, with US publishers).

In third place, with 8/1 odds is a relative unknown to American readers, Malaysian author Tan Twan Eng’s The Garden of Evening Mists (Perseus/Weinstein Books; original trade paperback). The author’s second book, it is also her second to appear on a Booker longlist. It was just released in the US and is reviewed in the NYT Book Review.

In the UK, it was published by a small publisher, causing the Independent to scold, “That a novel of this linguistic refinement and searching intelligence should come from a tiny Newcastle imprint tells us a lot about the vulgarity of corporate publishing today.”

The novel’s main setting is a Japanese garden that haunts the main character, who has just learned that she is losing her memory. Appropriately, Dominique Browning, who writes eloquently about gardens in her blog,, reviews it for the NYT. Clearly a fan, Browning says, “The beautiful garden referred to in the title plays host to the intertwining of several lives at a period cursed with being, so the saying goes, an ‘interesting time’ [World War II and its aftermath in Malaysia].”

One Response to “Booker Shortlist Next Week”

  1. Lisa Guidarini Says:

    My thinking: no way will they give the Booker to Mantel twice. The prize has been bashed for being too conventional lately. Methinks they won’t dare do something so conservative this time around. My money’s on Will Self. He’s both well-established and his new novel is “out there,” sort of experimental, sort of post-modern (if that’s still a term in use!).

    Gardening of Evening Mists has the hallmarks of a winner too, though. It’s a small book – as in unknown, as the article states – and giving the prize to a small publisher would make the Bookers look less stuffy.

    So, I’m putting my money on Will Self if they choose to go the “old” Booker route or Garden of Evening Mists if they take the road less traveled.

    Now watch, neither will make the shortlist and I’ll have to start all over!