Betting on the Booker
With the Booker long list not even a week old, speculation is already rampant. When picking your favourites there are a few ways you can go about it. The first would be the traditional approach – reading the whole long-list and choosing what you think is the best book.
This would a great method in theory but in practice you reach a bit of a snag when you attempt to peruse Summertime by J.M. Coetzee or Love and Summer by William Trevor, and find that neither will be available until the fall, so unless you have friends in high places and can find yourself an advance reader copy you may be up a creek.
The next option is to trust the boys down at Ladbrokes. When it comes to sports following the numbers is usually a fairly safe bet, however in literature the bookies never seem to get it exactly right. I would atempt to argue their thinking this year but the book they’re favouring is the Coetzee offering (at 3/1) and since I can’t even read it I would be hard pressed to say I have a better understanding than they do. The Guardian published an article yesterday with the full rundown of the bookies picks, which I shall provide for you here.
Bookies’ Booker Picks
1. J.M. Coetzee (3/1)
2. Sarah Walters (5/1)
3. Colm Toibin (6/1)
4. William Trevor (6/1)
5. James Scudamore (8/1)
6. A.S. Byatt (10/1)
7. Samantha Harvey (10/1)
8. Adam Foulds (10/1)
9. Sarah Hall (12/1)
10. James Lever (16/1)
11. Hilary Mantel (16/1)
12. Simon Mawer (20/1)
13. Ed O’Loughilin (20/1)
Now if I were a betting man, I would not follow the bookies’ money but the bookish money. The final method would be to watch the sales and purchase price for first editions and signed copies from Booker long-listers which might give an early indication as to who the booksellers and collectors think has the upperhand. Obviously Coetzee and Trevor cannot be included in this list because their books are not yet available but so far it looks like The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt might be a good candidate as the dark horse. She ranks second in sales to Heliopolis by James Scudamore on AbeBooks, but collectors are picking up lots of signed first editions, which have been selling briskly up to the $100+ mark where Scudamore is only selling reading copies.
Top 10 bestselling Booker Prize Long list nominees on AbeBooks
1. Heliopolis by James Scudamore
2. The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt
3. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
4. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
5. The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds
6. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
7. The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey
8. How to paint a dead man by Sarah Hall
9. The Glass Room by Simon Mawer
10. Not Untrue & Not Unkind by Ed O’Loughlin
As usual, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.