Wednesday 6 September 2017

These thirteen excellent books have been long-listed for the 2017 Man Booker Prize. The short list will be announced on 13 September. 
4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster       $37
Paul Auster’s first book in seven years, 4 3 2 1, follows the life of Archibald Isaac Ferguson born March 3, 1947. It’s not one life though: this Jewish boy born in Newark has 4 lives. Auster tells the story in parts - four strands - in sliding door style. In each part a fateful event at Archibald's father’s business (a burglary, a fire, a tragic accident and a buyout) leads to a change in circumstances for the family, and Archie’s life is determined by how his immediate family respond. Fate plays her part and Archie’s life is altered. The minutiae of Ferguson’s life are delightfully told and, despite the variations in his circumstances, his characteristics along with those of his immediate family keeps the four strands linked together. 

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry        $37
After signing up for the US army in the 1850s, aged 17, Thomas McNulty and his brother-in-arms, John Cole, go on to fight in the Indian wars and, ultimately, the Civil War. They find these days to be vivid and filled with wonder, despite the horrors they both witness and are complicit in. Their lives are further enriched and endangered when a young Shawnee woman crosses their path, and the possibility of lasting happiness emerges. 
"Days Without End is a work of staggering openness; its startlingly beautiful sentences are so capacious that they are hard to leave behind, its narrative so propulsive that you must move on. In its pages, Barry conjures a world in miniature, inward, quiet, sacred; and a world of spaces and borders so distant they can barely be imagined." - Guardian
History of Wolves by Emily Fridland        $33
Linda, age 14, lives on a dying commune on the edge of a lake in the Midwest of America. She has grown up isolated both by geography and her understanding of the world, and is an outsider at school, regarded as a freak. One day she notices the arrival of a young family in a cabin on the opposite side of the lake. She starts to befriend them, and for the first time she feels a sense of belonging that has been missing from her life. Leo, the father, is a university professor and an enigmatic figure, perpetually absent. When he returns home, Linda is shunned by the family unit. Desperate to be accepted again, she struggles to resume her place in their home and fails to see the oncoming consequences. 
"So much is accomplished here, not least a kind of trust that this writer will make everything count, including the kind of data that is usually left for dead in a story." - Ben Marcus
Exit West by Moshin Hamid          $37
What place is there for love in a world torn by crisis? From the author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist
"Exit West is a novel about migration and mutation, full of wormholes and rips in reality. It is animated by a constant motion between genre, between psychological and political space, and between a recent past, an intensified present and a near future." - The Guardian

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor                 $35
A teenage girl on holiday has gone missing in the hills at the heart of England. The villagers are called up to join the search, fanning out across the moors as the police set up roadblocks and a crowd of news reporters descends on their usually quiet home. Meanwhile, there is work that must still be done: cows milked, fences repaired, stone cut, pints poured, beds made, sermons written, a pantomime rehearsed. The search for the missing girl goes on, but so does everyday life. One tragedy affects the lives of many people. 
"Absolutely magnificent; one of the most beautiful, affecting novels I've read in years. The prose is alive and ringing. There is so much space and life in every sentence. I don't know how he's done it. It's beautiful." - Eimear McBride 
"McGregor writes with such grace and precision, with love even, about who and where we are, that he leaves behind all other writers of his generation." - Sarah Hall
Solar Bones by Mike McCormack          $23
Written in one long sentence (in which line breaks perform as a higher order of comma), McCormack’s remarkable and enjoyable book succeeds at both stretching the formal possibilities of the novel (for which it was awarded the 2016 Goldsmiths Prize) and in being a gentle, unassuming and thoughtful portrait of a very ordinary life in a small and unremarkable Irish town. The flow of McCormack’s prose sensitively maps the flow of thought, drawing feeling and meaning from the patterning of quotidian detail as the narrator dissolves himself in the memories of which he is comprised. This wash of memory suggests that the narrator may in fact be dead, the narrative being the residue (or cumulation) of his life, the enduring body of attachments, thoughts and feelings that comprise the person. Few novels capture so well the texture of a person’s life, and this has been achieved through a rigorous experiment in form. 
Elmet by Fiona Mozley         $35
A beautifully written novel about the relationship between a family and a landscape after the father's decision to withdraw from society.  
"An impressive elemental, contemporary rural noir steeped in the literature and legend of the Yorkshire landscape and its medieval history." - Guardian
"I already feel like I've won.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy         $38
"How to tell a shattered story? By slowly becoming everybody. No. By slowly becoming everything." Twenty years after The God of Small Things, Roy's second novel braids together many lives and strands as they pass through harm and healing. 
>> "Fiction takes its time."
>> Where do old birds go to die? (an extract from the novel).
>> Roy speaks with Kim Hill.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders      $33
Is this The American Book of the Dead? Abraham Lincoln's 11-year-old son Willie died of typhoid in 1862. This inventive and much-anticipated novel from the author of the Folio Prize-winning Tenth of December has a president, "freshly inclined toward sorrow," driven by grief into communion with the disembodied spirits of the dead in what becomes a meditation on the force of death in personal and collective histories, notably the American Civil War. 
>> Read the review in The New York Times
>> Saunders speaks.

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie         $27
Family, society, love and religion clash in this modern reworking of the themes of Antigone
"Home Fire left me awestruck, shaken, on the edge of my chair, filled with admiration for her courage and ambition. Recommended reading for prime ministers and presidents everywhere." - Peter Carey 

Autumn by Ali Smith          $26
In a nation divided against itself, who is looking to the future and who to the past, and how is love won and lost?
"Transcendental writing about art, death and all the dimensions of love. It's not so much 'reading between the lines' as being blinded by the light between the lines - in a good way." - Deborah Levy 
"Smith is more valuable than a whole parliament of politicians." - Financial Times 
"Undoubtedly Smith at her best. Puckish, yet elegant; angry, but comforting." - The Times
Swing Time by Zadie Smith          $26
Two brown girls dream of being dancers – but only one has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It's a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early 20s, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either.
"Brilliant." - Guardian
"Superb." - Financial Times 
"Virtuosic and breathtaking." - Times Literary Supplement 
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead        $25
A young slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia takes the opportunity to escape to the North and freedom aboard the Underground Railroad, which, in this Pulitzer-prize winning novel, is a boxcar railway literally under the ground. A meditation on race and the way that history is perceived. 
"A brutal, vital, devastating novel. This is a luminous, furious, wildly inventive tale that not only shines a bright light on one of the darkest periods of history, but also opens up thrilling new vistas for the form of the novel itself." - Observer

Come and tell us which book you would choose to win the 2017 Man Booker Prize. 

No comments:

Post a Comment