Who does Amanda Hodgkinson think will scoop the Man Booker Prize – and do you agree with the University of Suffolk lecturer?
PUBLISHED: 10:04 21 September 2018 | UPDATED: 10:14 21 September 2018
Which contender is she talking about here? ‘If you happen to be walking past a bookshop, find a copy and read the opening lines. I guarantee you will have to buy the book and take it home with you’
“The Man Booker Prize is a great reason to buy more books at this time of year and who could ever complain about that? The Man Booker and other literary prizes give us more than great books to read; by bringing attention to writers and their work it also gives voice to the many possible ways in which to consider the world we live in.
“Every year a different theme emerges from the shortlist and this year, perhaps unsurprisingly, there is a compelling focus on intimate relationships and power.
“I would find it hard to pick a winner as each of the shortlisted books seems to me to be worthy of winning. All the books here are compelling, page-turning narratives.
“If I have to choose then I would pick Esi Edugyan’s novel Washington Black as my favourite read. I loved her 2011 novel Half-Blood Blues, also short-listed for The Man Booker prize. Edugyan’s strength as a writer is her powerful storytelling and lyrical, cinematic prose.
“Also on the list and worthy of winning is Richard Powers’ novel The Overstory. Powers is an American novelist who began his working life as a computer programmer.
“Seeing a photograph in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston one day prompted him to become a novelist and he is now one of America’s highly regarded writers. The Overstory is epic in its vision and an absorbing read.
“Anna Burns’ novel Milkman is also a book that belongs on the shortlist – this is a brilliant, inventive, experimental novel and I was thrilled by the dark humour, the exuberant language, and the verve and style of her writing.
“Daisy Johnson is remarkable as the youngest novelist on the list. I adored her recent book of unsettling and beautiful short stories, Fen.
“Her debut novel Everything Under develops her writing skills further still, this time exploring a mother-daughter relationship with originality and heart.
“Another novel that examines relationships, albeit in very different ways, is Rachel Kushner’s The Mars Room. Her economical writing style and thought-provoking subject matter make this the kind of book you press into other people’s hands, telling them they must read it too.
“Nevertheless, if I can have two favourites in this list (and as I am not an official judge then, yes, I believe I can have as many favourites as I like) Robin Robertson’s The Long Take also seems to me a potential winner.
Robertson is an award-winning poet and an editor, working with many writers including Anne Enright, John Banville and American poet Sharon Olds.
“If you happen to be walking past a bookshop, go in, find a copy of The Long Take and read the opening lines. I guarantee you will have to buy the book and take it home with you. The power and emotion of his writing astounds me.
“Finally, whatever you think of literary prizes and the potentially difficult idea of picking one book over another, The Man Booker prize celebrates literature and that for me (and for all of us) is a wonderful, important thing.
“There are so many reasons to read all the books on this shortlist – not least the fact that reading allows us the space in an uncertain world to consider anew what it is to be us, and what it might be to be someone else.”
Dr Amanda Hodgkinson is lecturer for the BA (Hons) English course at the University of Suffolk. Her debut novel 22 Britannia Road, set in Ipswich, was an international bestseller.
Her second novel, Spilt Milk, came out early in 2014 and novella Tin Town (Grand Central, Penguin US) was published that summer.