Crime fiction and the Man Booker 2018

In my series of posts featuring awards for crime fiction I hadn’t particularly anticipated that I would also be including the Man Booker. In their own words “the prize is awarded to what is, in the opinion of the judges, the best novel of the year written in English and published in the UK”, it is perceived as being for ‘literary fiction’ and as such has been criticised for excluding books in more commercial genres.

In recent years there have been signs that this is changing. In 2015 A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James took the prize, and if not crime fiction it certainly shares some similarities with the genre. In 2016 His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet made it on to the shortlist – although historical and despite the author’s apparent argument against it being a crime novel – was as much a crime novel as many others. In the same year Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh was also shortlisted, with a thriller if not crime fiction (there is a fine line there somewhere) which was, according to the author, a deliberate exercise in playing with the format of commercial fiction to get the attention of a big publisher. The longlist for 2017 included Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor, which had all the trappings of crime fiction but developed into something more ‘literary’.

So what of 2018? The first noteworthy change is the inclusion of crime writer Val McDermid on the judging panel. And the second is that the longlist includes a book that is definitely and unequivocally a crime novel (and which coincidentally includes a quote from Val McDermid on the cover) and that’s Snap by Belinda Bauer.  Why shouldn’t this be crime fiction’s year?

The full longlist is:

From the UK:

Snap by Belinda Bauer (Bantam Press)

Milkman by Anna Burns (Faber & Faber)

In Our Mad And Furious City by Guy Gunaratne (Tinder Press)

Everything Under by Daisy Johnson (Jonathan Cape)

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh (Hamish Hamilton)

The Long Take Robin Robertson by (Picador)

From the USA

Sabrina by Nick Drnaso (Granta Books)

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner (Jonathan Cape)

The Overstory by Richard Powers  (William Heinemann)

From Canada

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (Serpent’s Tail)

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje (Jonathan Cape)

From Ireland

Normal People by Sally Rooney (Faber & Faber)

From A Low And Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan (Doubleday Ireland)

The timeline for the award is longlist announced 24 July, shortlist announced 20 September and the announcement of winner takes place in London’s Guildhall at a black-tie dinner on 16 October.

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