The Man Booker Prize 2016: What I read

longlist-sticker2016On 27th July Man Booker Prize announced 2016 longlist! I always check out the long list of this prize, and I try to read books from the list, at least the winner. Let’s have a look at books I already read from the long list, and which books were on my TBR list before the announcement, and which I am adding to my TBR.


2016 Man Booker Dozen (source

The 2016 longlist, or Man Booker ‘Dozen’, of 13 novels, is:

Author (nationality) – Title (imprint)

  • Paul Beatty (US) – The Sellout (Oneworld)
  • J.M. Coetzee (South African-Australian) – The Schooldays of Jesus (Harvill Secker)
  • A.L. Kennedy (UK) – Serious Sweet (Jonathan Cape)
  • Deborah Levy (UK) – Hot Milk (Hamish Hamilton)
  • Graeme Macrae Burnet (UK) – His Bloody Project (Contraband)
  • Ian McGuire (UK) – The North Water (Scribner UK)
  • David Means (US) – Hystopia (Faber & Faber)
  • Wyl Menmuir (UK) -The Many (Salt)
  • Ottessa Moshfegh (US) – Eileen (Jonathan Cape)
  • Virginia Reeves (US) – Work Like Any Other (Scribner UK)
  • Elizabeth Strout (US) – My Name Is Lucy Barton (Viking)
  • David Szalay (Canada-UK) – All That Man Is (Jonathan Cape)
  • Madeleine Thien (Canada) – Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Granta Books)


– books I read –

My Name is Lucy Barton
by Elizabeth Strout

my rating: ★★★★☆

My first thought when I finished the book was: ‘What… But… I want more!’. I wanted explanations; I was waiting to get the clear answers to all the questions I had. This made me so frustrated! But then I calmed down, I thought about the book. And I gained more and more understanding.

So was left me so frustrated is a story of Lucy. She’s writing the book, she is writing it long after all the incidents from the book happened, she already had time to think and grow. The core of the book is time Lucy spend in the hospital, where she was admitted for appendix surgery and stayed there for nine more weeks for unknown for us reasons. At this time her mother, whom she didn’t see for a long time visits here there and spends with her five days. This brings the study of Lucy’s relationship with her mother and her past. Her growing up in the poverty in a small town, with parents, brother and sister. But at the time of hospital stay, in the 80s, she is living in New York City, she has a husband and two daughters. Lucy is giving us bits of her life as a child, never saying clearly what happened to her, we need to read between the lines to understand her. And there is not much more I can say not ruining your reading experience, so I leave it at that.

This story shows that where we grow up and who is bringing us up is defining us, had a huge impact on who we are and how we are perceived by the world. But is also shows us that we can live with that, we can embrace it and come to terms with it. We can gain from it. And we can still be different than our parents and out past, we can do things differently, we can be different than what people think about us. After all, it is up to us to be ruthless and brave and maybe selfish to define ourselves without getting rid of the past.

Hot Milk
by Deborah Levy

my rating: ★★★☆☆

Sophia is 25 anthropologist, working in a café and taking care of her mother. She and Rosa are in Spain to seek treatment from a famous consultant who may be able to diagnose Rosa’s mysterious leg paralysis. During this stay, in a rented house next to the sea filled with jellyfishes and a diving school with a howling dog on a chain, Sofia is trying to decide who she is. She knows that right now she’s waiting on her mother, she is her legs. But how long can she do it, how long can she take care of her mother that seems to be very much hypochondriac.

I don’t know what to think of this book, how to rate it. I like it because it has this special feeling, sadness, peace, melancholia. Most of the things are left untold. Characters are talking in this particular way as if they could understand life better than anyone else. Reading this book, I was feeling similar to when I was reading Virgin Suicides. It gave me the similar feeling that I cannot describe.

I have troubles with understating why Hot Milk? How does this title work with the story? I do not know.

– books already on my TBR –


The Sellout

Born in the ‘agrarian ghetto’ of Dickens on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles and raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, the narrator of The Sellout spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe his father’s pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family’s financial woes. But when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realises there never was a memoir. All that’s left is the bill for a drive-through funeral.

Fuelled by this deceit and the general disrepair of his hometown, the narrator sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California from further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town’s most famous resident – Hominy Jenkins – he initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school which lands him in the Supreme Court.

What follows is a remarkable journey that challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement and the holy grail of racial equality – the black Chinese restaurant. 

The North Water

‘Behold the man. Stinking, drunk, brutal and bloodthirsty, Henry Drax is a harpooner on the Volunteer, a Yorkshire whaling ship bound for the hunting waters of the Arctic Circle. Also aboard for the first time is Patrick Sumner, an ex-army surgeon with a shattered reputation, no money and no better option than to embark as ship’s medic on this violent, filthy, ill-fated voyage.

In India during the Siege of Delhi, Sumner thought he had experienced the depths to which a man can stoop, but now, trapped in the wooden belly of the ship with Drax, he encounters pure evil and is forced to act. As the true purposes of the expedition become clear, the confrontation between the two men plays out in the freezing darkness of an Arctic winter.


The bitter end of the 1960s: JFK’s third term in office. Vietnam rages on. A new federal agency, the Psych Corps, maintains the nation’s mental health by wiping soldiers’ memories through drugs and therapy, while those beyond help roam at will, re-enacting atrocities on civilians.

This is the vision of Eugene Allen, a twenty-two-year-old Vietnam vet, writing this book-within-a-book at the heart of Hystopia. Hystopia reveals the crazy reality of trauma, both national and personal.


The Christmas season offers little cheer for Eileen Dunlop, an unassuming yet disturbed young woman trapped between her role as her alcoholic father’s carer in his squalid home and her day job as a secretary at the boys’ prison, filled with its own quotidian horrors. Consumed by resentment and self-loathing, Eileen tempers her dreary days with perverse fantasies and dreams of escaping to the big city. In the meantime, she fills her nights and weekends with shoplifting, stalking a handsome prison guard named Randy, and cleaning up her increasingly deranged father’s messes. When the beautiful, charismatic Rebecca Saint John arrives on the scene as the new counsellor at the prison, Eileen is enchanted and unable to resist what appears to be a miraculously budding friendship. In a Hitchcockian twist, her affection for Rebecca pulls her into complicity in a crime that surpasses her wildest imaginings.

Do Not Say We Have Nothing

In Canada in 1991, ten-year-old Marie and her mother invite a guest into their home: a young woman called Ai-Ming, who has fled China in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests. 

Ai-Ming tells Marie the story of her family in Revolutionary China – from the crowded teahouses in the first days of Chairman Mao’s ascent to the Shanghai Conservatory in the 1960s and the events leading to the Beijing demonstrations of 1989.  It is a story of revolutionary idealism, music, and silence, in which three musicians – the shy and brilliant composer Sparrow, the violin prodigy Zhuli, and the enigmatic pianist Kai – struggle during China’s relentless Cultural Revolution to remain loyal to one another and to the music they have devoted their lives to.  Forced to re-imagine their artistic and private selves, their fates reverberate through the years, with deep and lasting consequences for Ai-Ming – and for Marie.

– adding to my TBR –

All the book blurbs come from The Man Booker Prize page.

Did you read any of the longlisted books? Are you planning on readin any of them? Any bets on the prize winner?

4 thoughts on “The Man Booker Prize 2016: What I read

  1. Anne says:

    What a cool post! 🙂 I can’t bet on this because it’s usually a total surprise who’s going to win. Which I actually love about this Prize because popularity means shit here 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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