The thirteen books nominated for the Man Booker Prize, known as the Man Booker Dozen, have been announced, and it's the usual mix of superstar Brit-lit studs (Salman Rushdie), acclaimed debut novelists (Aravind Adiga), and a welcome dark horse (thriller writer Tom Rob Smith). Most intriguing, though, is the inclusion of Joseph O'Neill's Netherland, the New York–set novel that may yet inspire the hipsterization of cricket. (O'Neill lives in New York and grew up in the Netherlands, but was born in Ireland, making his novel eligible for the prize.) Can anything beat the novel James Wood called "one of the most remarkable postcolonial books I have ever read"?
Surprisingly, maybe so!
The reviews of Netherland in the U.K. have been respectful but, with the exception of Sean O'Hagan's in the Guardian, not rapturous. Some, including Benjamin Kunkel's overcomplicated critique in the London Review of Books, have been downright mixed. Meanwhile, one early favorite seems to be Booker of Bookers winner Rushdie, despite his novel's poor showing in the States. This will please Financial Times reviewer John Sutherland, who despite admitting to not really understanding what The Enchantress of Florence was about, declared he'd "curry [his] proof copy and eat it," Werner Herzog style, if it didn't win the Booker.