Obviously I don't know yet...but I feel it important to put my heart on the line and commit to my certainty that it should be the McCarthy. Of all the six, it's the one that I least wanted to put down, and the one that captured my imagination most.
I haven't really explained my views on the final two, though.
Number, what, 50?, was The Finkler Question (Jacobson) and I've been stewing about what to write about it because it seems like a touchy subject. Having stewed, though, I can't say much better than that I'm not comfortable with anti-semitism, no matter who it comes from, and nor do I have a lot of time for cliche and lazy stereotyping.
To finish the six, and it did turn out to be a bit of a race, I had the longest, 51 Parrot and Olivier in America. I'm so recently finished that I might have to give a more reflective comment in a few days, but for now I should say:
1. It would be a worthy second choice for the prize, if C can't have it.
2. It has much of what I admired in the McCarthy - the ambition, scope, muscularity and so on, as well as a good weight, and
3. it's very clever, and carries off the two narrative voices very convincingly, but
4. this is sometimes too clever. Perhaps it was cleverer than the McCarthy, but it certainly wore it less lightly, and
5. Emotionally, it didn't engage me like the McCarthy. I don't feel bereft at having finished it, and I can't quite imagine reading it again.
So, to be clear, first choice by miles, the McCarthy, second choice the Carey, anything else a travesty.
Feel free to taunt me if I turn out to have been wrong.