Joshua Ferris, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour
Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
Howard Jacobson, J
Neel Mukherjee, The Lives of Others
Ali Smith, How to be Both
Now if I were ranking these based on the five I've read, it'd probably go something like this:
This, however, does not mean much, in that there is little discernible difference in prose or narrative quality to me. There is, how, a difference in story types: mid-20th century Bengali family/social history; a tale of war and violence (and its effects) in a WWII Japanese PoW camp in Thailand; a story that questions what makes humans and their families so special after all; a comic-serious account of religion and identity; and a tale of prejudice and identity loss. Each of these has their appeal for certain readers and one's enjoyment of the tales will largely depend on how much the reader tends to like those story types.
As for the longlisted books that failed to make it, as I said above, the Kingsnorth, Powers, and Hustvedt would have been worthy of consideration. Perhaps Niall Williams' History of the Rain as well. David Mitchell's The Bone Clocks, which I finished reading Monday night and will review later this week, was just too flawed in its presentation for it to be a true contender. Have Joseph O'Neill's The Dog to read later this week and it won't be until late October that David Nicholls' Us is released in the US, so it is impossible for me to weigh in now on their quality and if they would have been worthy alternates for the shortlist.
Hopefully in the next couple of weeks (depending on whenever the Smith arrives), I'll have all six of the finalists reviewed. Now to await word next week on the longlisted titles (in four categories!) for the National Book Awards, which tend to suit my tastes a bit more than the Booker Prize. I suspect I will have read/own at least some of the titles to be announced there.