Orange won't change that debate. But its longlist does demonstrate, yet again, that the contemporary fiction that matters is largely by (and for) women. If all we had to read this year in fiction was to be found on this list we'd still have plenty to savour and digest.
The other thing about Orange – Booker take note, please – is the impressive slate of American women writers on this list. From some points of view, it's almost an alternative tradition. Except, of course, it's not, because it's part of Orange. And Orange — hallelujah – is fiercely global in its perspective. No British and Commonwealth only nonsense here. This is new fiction sans frontières.
As I've implied, then, the list is pretty comprehensive. Still, there are some surprising (though not shocking) decisions.
Oddest inclusion: Emma Donoghue, for a book that was first published in Canada in 2008. Perhaps they felt bad about not giving her the 2011 prize for Room.
Regrettable omissions: Penelope Lively, for How It All Began, and former winner Kate Grenville, for her sequel to The Secret River, Sarah Thornhill. I'd also have liked to have seen a nod towards Charlotte Rogan (The Lifeboat), Eowyn Ivey's magical debut, The Snow Child, or Belinda McKeon's Solace.
The shortlist is, of course, the list that counts. Who, at this stage, is a front runner? Hard to say. There are no obvious favourites, though Esi Edugyan must be in with a chance for her Booker-shortlisted Half Blood Blues. What do you think?