*'thoughts' may be stretching it <---- artistic licence, yo.
Unfortunately, as a sequel that continues her 2009 Booker-winning Wolf Hall in every way [did I mention I have a soft spot for the middle books of trilogies too?] its literary-qualities-aside chances of winning are about 0.0000000001%. The concluding volume might have a shot in 2016? XD
*EDIT* Mantel WON! :D
My runner-up favourites, which didn't make the shortlist:
Nicola Barker, The Yips -- another favourite writer -- this woman does dialogue and dark comedy (with a capital c and a small c and many a chaotically expletive c) with barmy panache. If you aren't sure she's your thing [though if you can put up with my kind of drivel I suspect you will find her v. readable] Wide Open is probably the best balance of representative and accessible. For me, Darkmans remains her richest offering so far.
Ned Beauman, The Teleportation Accident -- another deranged manic-comic historico-science-fictional satire, with thankfully a bit more heart than I expected. Ware if you hate high style, broad farce and extravert postmodernity. The protagonist is called Loeser and introduced as 'a total prick,' so....no refunds.
On the face of it, everything I steer clear of: a slim volume heavily freighted with portentous puff about hyumin-naychure-troofs-thereof on the back, whose action, such as it is, mostly consists of internal emotional involute-ish tangles, all in minimalist prose and a wide-spaced font. It is very much the typical lit fic piece I would never have bothered with were it not for Teh Challenge, and it's absolutely bloody brilliant. I finished it at 3am, emotionally shattered and philosophically shaken, and flipped right back to the beginning again. If there's one book you should try from this list, this is it. Especially if you like perfume.
The rest of the shortlist I would not back FOR REASONS:
Deborah Levy, Swimming Home -- this straddled Rachel Joyce's Harold Fry and Moore's Lighthouse and for me; while it highlighted the creaking of the plot and slightly hollow overreaching in the former, it was just totally outclassed by the latter, appearing slight and conventional in its turn. I did find all three about equally (and surprisingly) easy and pleasurable reads -- totally not taking 'difficulty' as a guarantee of depth here.
Which is why I can't really drivel about the current frontrunner, Will Self's Umbrella, the only book on this list I didn't finish. Because copious amounts of alcohol and a new lipstick were required to bribe me through the first 100 and the last 3 pages [personal rule] of this naked-imperial bollocks. At least I have a topical new example of 'not a book to be lightly tossed aside but flung with great force' (preferably via canon at end of ten-foot bargepole, aimed at deepest darkest crevasse on earth).
Jeet Thayil, Narcopolis -- a technically brilliant writing exercise (first novel from a poet), which is as much its weakness as strength for me -- too composed. Still worth it for the ride, even if heady hallucinatory underbelly trips aren't usually up your literary alley.
Rest of the longlisted-onlies:
Michael Frayn, Skios -- because I'm a tricksy fox like that, here's a writer, a genre (farce) and settings (Greece, cultural institutions) I love....and a resounding meh of a book. There are mistaken identities and bed tricks and a plot that runs entirely on bad puns and two twin cab drivers called Spiros and Stavros. Sometimes even the lemoniest souffles will fall :(
Rachel Joyce, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry -- as mentioned above, likeable but just too slight, too neat, too Radio 4 (sorry, cheap shot -- and to be fair I can't do my makeup without R4 on). I have a feeling this might appeal to those who liked the concept of J.K. Rowling's Casual Vacancy but found it a bit...unremitting.
André Brink, Philida -- another book I would've read even without the litfic challenge, and would still recommend to most, but with some warnings I wish I'd've been given: while compelling and engaging and with some nice prosing, this is closer to The Help populism than to Coetzee-calibre artistry. And even the witty knitting metaphors (!) couldn't mask the sudden fizzling-out of story towards the end.
Sam Thompson, Communion Town has a totally-my-thing concept and a lot of good, just showoffy enough but not obnoxiouslyWillSelfish prose ventriloquism going on. But it aint no novel, it's most definitely a short story collection. In the longlist it sits closest to The Teleportation Accident, and despite the chaotic exuberance of that, it's Communion Town that left me (me!) calling for a bit more restraint. A bit more selective editing, perhaps? Good lord, this litfic stuff does broaden one's mind. But I maintain that many 'proper' (okay, marketed-as) spec-fic writers have done this kind of thing already, and done it better. In the 15 seconds before the winner announcement: Catherynne Valente, Jeff VanDerMeer, China Miéville, Michael Moorcook, Brian Aldiss....
Yeah, 'in brief' was really stretching it. Cookies for anyone who made it this far :D Have you read any of these or do you plan to? Any recs for more? (I'm about done with the Orange prize longlist now.) Or spiny fish you'd like to slap me with for dissing your homeboy Will. etc.