Booker Long List UpdateNovember 1, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Posted in Fiction | 4 Comments
I’ve been reading through the 2010 Man Booker Prize long list, originally in the hope that I’d have time to read them all before the short list candidates were announced so I could guess the winner. Now I’m just fascinated with them and reading them for pleasure. I thought I’d write up some brief thoughts about the ones I’ve read so far.
The Slap – Christos Tsiolkas. A dirty, compulsive read. Not really a literary novel at all, in my mind, but the sort of book you can’t help wanting to talk to someone about. (Even though another part of you may be wishing you’d never read it!)
Parrot and Oliver in America – Peter Carey. I really loved this book. I reviewed it, too, so rather than gush everywhere about it I’ll just ask you to scroll down.
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet – David Mitchell. I listened to this on audio and the narration was spectacularly good. Mitchell’s writing is beautiful, and he brings an historical era to life with a lot of nuanced detail. There is a good romantic story line that ends the way I prefer – unpredictably, and satisfyingly like real life. However, the main plot line is highly melodramatic. In other words, it might be more accessible, for a really thick literary novel, than some of the other titles on the list.
Room – Emma Donoghue. Genius, compelling, beautiful, and not nearly as dark as it could have been. Another one that makes you want to find someone who’s read it and discuss it. In length and style, probably the “easiest” read on the list this year.
C – Tom McCarthy. I enjoy McCarthy even when I’m not sure what he’s talking about. He has a particular genius for writing about altered states, whether drugged, dreamed, or hallucinated. The other thing he does incredibly well is to describe actions and objects with great technical precision. He’s one of those authors I will make sure to read, no matter what the topic.
Skippy Dies – Paul Murray. A slightly flawed masterpiece. I got totally sucked in to this book to the point that it made a scofflaw of me! It was due at the library last Monday, but I couldn’t bear to speed through it and give it up, so I hung on to it and finished it yesterday. It is just brilliantly funny. (My husband says there is no way a book in which the title character, a 14-year-old boy, dies in the first chapter could possibly be funny – but he’s so wrong).
I have a copy of In a Strange Room, and I’m on the wait list for The Long Song, The Betrayal, February, and Trespass. I’m still working out how to acquire the others. Watch this space for further reviews – hopefully less than a month apart!