Judging a Booker by its Cover

Bing bing bing bing bing bing bing! It’s that time of year already! The Booker list is upon us, and we can now spend the next three months rifling through Waterstones displays and gnashing our teeth about the choices on offer.

Sadly for me I have only read a grand total of ONE of the longlist thus far, so as far as insider tips for the winners go, I got nothin’. But then I thought, you know what? Rather than read them, why not just make vague and arbitrary assumptions on them based on their covers?!

The Teleportation Accident
Bring up the Bodies
The Lighthouse

The Yips – Nicola Barker (Fourth Estate)
A modern reworking of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau, this time set in the contemporary world of professional golf tournaments. A down-and-out sports agent becomes obsessed with the rat’s natural proclivity for scouting out small holes, and how that might be harnessed to create a golfing champion. But all that seems like a pipe dream… until he meets a punk-rock frontman with a penchant for smashing up his guitars – and a swing to die for.

The Teleportation Accident – Ned Beauman (Sceptre)
Dr. Who slash fic in which he regenerates into a woman and becomes trapped in the 1920s. Posing as a Hall of Mirrors kiosk attendant while (s)he tries to fix the Tardis without the use of plastics, things take a distinctly erotic turn when the Louise Brooks look-a-like contest comes to town, with one particularly spunky contender.

Philida – Andre Brink (Harvill Secker)
A young girl comes to terms with her traumatic past on a plantation by learning to commune with the animals. Dr. Doolittle meets Jonathan Norrell and Mr Strange meets Wide Sargasso Sea.

The Garden of Evening Mists – Tan Twan Eng  (Myrmidon Books)
A lonely Japanese woman finds an outlet from her loveless marriage by corresponding with the local newspaper’s gardening advice columnist.

Skios – Michael Frayn (Faber & Faber)
If you liked Mama Miayou’ll love Skios!

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce (Doubleday)
A down on his luck but kindly tramp chances across a battered copy of The Canterbury Tales. Inspired by their spontaneity and his affinity with Middle English (which he has honed through years of listening to Tinny Tim garble through 6 cans or more of special brew), he follows in their footsteps.

Swimming Home – Deborah Levy (And Other Stories)
One salmon’s story.

Bring Up the Bodies – Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate)
Cheating! I actually read this one.

The Lighthouse – Alison Moore (Salt)
Variously described as a scathing comment on Cameron’s Britain or a Pynchion satire of modernist subjectivity, this is an avant-garde piece told from the point of view of the lighthouse. It only consists of the words ‘off’ and ‘on’.

Umbrella – Will Self (Bloomsbury)
Old Bill Spokes has lost his wife, is abused by his two grown children, and now even his cat has left him. All he has left is his bespoke umbrella manufacturing business, and he hasn’t had a customer in a month. But all that changes when a man walks into his shop with a request for a very special umbrella indeed. Spokes soon finds himself caught up between two warring East end families – and making the greatest umbrella of his life.

Narcopolis – Jeet Thayll (Faber & Faber)
A chance encounter with a tourist leaves young Indian snake charmer obsessed with the works of Picasso. Soon, his reproductions are picked up by a travelling art dealer who launches him onto the Young British Artist scene. But when Damien Hirst starts to take a little too much interest in his snakes, things become rather less…charming.

Communion Town – Sam Thompson (Fourth Estate)
An insightful look at using public records to find the optimal location for your new church.

So I reckon that’s got to be at least 90% accurate, right?



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