In my Booker Prize blog post last year, I noted that my longlist predictions lists in 2020 and 2021 included the eventual winners in those years: Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart and The Promise by Damon Galgut. I posed the question of whether I could make it three years in a row. The answer was a resounding no, but I think it’s fair to say that last year’s winner The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka didn’t feature in too many other predictions lists either, so I guess that was a small consolation.
As ever, my annual list of predictions consists of what I think could be some strong possibilities alongside my own personal preferences, based on a few novels I have read and others I have heard about. Novels published in the UK between 1 October 2022 and 30 September 2023 will be eligible. It’s impossible to know for sure which novels have been submitted for consideration, although the latest efforts by previous winners are usually considered automatically.
On that basis, Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton and Victory City by Salman Rushdie will surely have been put forward, following their respective wins in 2013 for The Luminaries and 1991 for ‘Midnight’s Children’. Other Booker Prize regulars could also include The Fraud by Zadie Smith due to be published in September, Old God’s Time by Sebastian Barry which could be the Irish author’s fifth appearance on the longlist and The House of Doors by Tan Twan Eng, the Malaysian author’s third novel which would make it a hat-trick following Booker Prize nominations for his previous two books.
Having won the Women’s Prize for Fiction last month, it will be interesting to see if Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver is enthusiastically received by the Booker Prize judges. I would also like to see recognition for Soldier Sailor by Claire Kilroy which is a widely acclaimed account of the early years of motherhood.
I think there could be a strong showing for debut novels this year. Close to Home by Michael Magee is about a man in his 20s returning to Belfast, In Memoriam by Alice Winn is a piece of historical fiction about two soldiers who fall in love during the First World War and Fire Rush by Jacqueline Crooks was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction earlier this year and is about the Jamaican community in London in the 1980s.
Booker Prize recognition for literature from the Southern Hemisphere has sometimes been patchy, but Limberlost by Robbie Arnott set in rural Tasmania might make the cut to represent Australian fiction. The proportion of books by US authors on the longlist has been scrutinised since the rule change in 2014 and possible contenders alongside Barbara Kingsolver could include I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home by Lorrie Moore, her first novel in 14 years, or Biography of X by Catherine Lacey about an enigmatic artist in an alternative version of the United States.
The longlist will be announced on Tuesday 1st August. Which books do you think will make the cut?