Archive for the ‘Booker Project’ Category

Don’t think I’ll try to read these, especially since the prize is for each writer’s whole body of work. Even I don’t feel I can tackle that. Still working on the Orange Prize Longlist as well as the NBCC winners (selected).

But here’s the info:

Thirteen selected for finalists’ list

30 March 2011

Thirteen writers have made it on to the judges’ list of finalists under serious consideration for the fourth Man Booker International Prize, the £60,000 award which recognises one writer for his or her achievement in fiction.

The authors come from eight countries, five are published in translation and there are four women on the list. One writer has previously won the annual Man Booker Prize for Fiction and two have been shortlisted. Famously, another, John le Carré, asked that his books should not be submitted for the annual prize to give less established authors the opportunity to win.

The Finalists’ List is announced by the chair of judges, Rick Gekoski, at a press conference held at the University of Sydney, today Wednesday 30 March 2011 at 10.00 (EST).

The thirteen authors on the list are:

  • Wang Anyi (China)
  • Juan Goytisolo (Spain)
  • James Kelman (UK)
  • John le Carré (UK)
  • Amin Maalouf (Lebanon)
  • David Malouf (Australia)
  • Dacia Maraini (Italy)
  • Rohinton Mistry (India/Canada)
  • Philip Pullman (UK)
  • Marilynne Robinson (USA)
  • Philip Roth (USA)
  • Su Tong (China)
  • Anne Tyler (USA)

The judging panel for the Man Booker International Prize 2011 consists of writer, academic and rare-book dealer Dr. Rick Gekoski (Chair), publisher, writer and critic Carmen Callil, and award-winning novelist Justin Cartwright.

More info at the Man Booker website.


Reading the Bookers

Posted: July 29, 2008 in Booker Project

2008 Man Booker Long List:

The titles are:

Aravind Adiga              The White Tiger                                 
Gaynor Arnold             Girl in a Blue Dress                           
Sebastian Barry           The Secret Scripture                         
John Berger                 From A to X                                        
Michelle de Kretser      The Lost Dog                                     
Amitav Ghosh              Sea of Poppies                                  
Linda Grant                 The Clothes on Their Backs             
Mohammed Hanif         A Case of Exploding Mangoes         
Philip Hensher             The Northern Clemency                     
Joseph O’Neill              Netherland                                        
Salman Rushdie          The Enchantress of Florence            
Tom Rob Smith            Child 44                           
Steve Toltz                   A Fraction of the Whole

A couple years ago I nearly went blind trying to cram the reading of the entire Booker Long List into my reading schedule. Reader, I won’t be doing that again.

Rather, this year I’m going to go at it in a much more relaxed way. I own a couple of the long-listed books, the Rushdie and the Smith (in a signed review copy – joy!). I can get four or five of them from my own library, and I’m interlibrary loaning another three or so. As for the rest of them, if I blow through the eight or so I can lay hands on I may try using WorldCat to get my hot little hands on the others. MAYBE.

More likely, I’ll read as many as I can, then try to make a prediction based on that. Even if I don’t pick the winner I’ll have some good reading ahead of me. Lowering the pressure is so much better than going cross-eyed trying to pack in twelve books in a month and a half, which is when the short list will be announced (September 9).

And yes, I could wait for the shortlist, but that’s not nearly as much of a challenge. Talk to me next year, though. I may be lowering the bar again, depending on how this year goes.

Anyone else reading anything from the long list? I’d love to hear from you and get your take on the book(s). I’ll report back here as I finish them. Wish me luck.

I absolutely loved this book. The Other Side of the Bridge is one of those family saga sorts of novels, I guess you’d say, though it’s not a really long epic sort of book at 304 pages. It’s a variation of the Cain and Abel tale set in rural Ontario, Canada and takes places within the space of one generation in the Dunn family.

Arthur Dunn is the lumbering, slow-witted older brother, and his younger brother, Jake, is his nemesis. Arthur doesn’t have a vindictive bone in his body, but his manipulative younger brother pushes him to his limit, seemingly for his own entertainment.

Jake is a cruel person, almost completely without any sense of morality. He has been spoiled and indulged by his mother from birth, mostly due to the fact numerous miscarriages occurred between the births of Arthur and Jake. When Jake was born it was all but miraculous to his mother, and the fact he was a sickly, small child only added to her overprotectiveness. While their father didn’t approve of this kind of extreme coddling, he was such a pushover for his wife he wouldn’t step in and oppose her. That left Arthur very much on the fringes, to fight his own battles.

After years of being pushed by his brother, Arthur does eventually break. By his own inaction he causes a devastating accident to happen to Jake, and spends the rest of his life living through the guilt. This guilt becomes the force that overshadows the rest of the novel, casting a dark cloud on the lives of Arthur and his family. Before the end of the book an even bigger price will be paid, and the life of a complete innocent will finally pay the devil’s ransom that ends the feud between the brothers.

This is a powerful book, written in a very understated but lyrical style. It’s absolutely gorgeous. But will Lawson be the breakthrough winner of the Booker? I’d be inclined to think not, considering the staggering competition and her comparative newcomer status (though this isn’t her first book). However, if she does by some small chance win I would be thrilled. Her style reminds me a bit of two other tremendously skilled native Canadian writers, Margaret Laurence and Margaret Atwood. She seems to be following in the footsteps of these two icons, and I think she’s well on her way to achieving her own literary greatness.

But my final bet is no, The Other Side of the Bridge won’t be the victor. If it doesn’t win it won’t be from lack of worthiness, but rather from the lack of a big literary reputation backing her up. Having been nominated, though, greatly increases her visibility. If Lawson keeps writing this well she may have a shot at the prize in the future.

After this very positive reading experience I’ll be reading her first novel, Crow Lake. Reviews for this one are glowing, and I have no doubt it’s as beautiful as The Other Side of the Bridge.

Mary Lawson

mothersmilk.jpg Booker Book # 2 wasn’t what I’d call a let-down, by any means. Mother’s Milk is charming, sweet and at times very, very funny. It’s told partly from the perspective of a young boy named Robert who, until his brother Thomas arrives on the scene, is the beloved only child of very involved parents. Even after Thomas’s arrival Robert has little to complain of, save the normal plight of sibling rivalry. He’s most definitely a very well cared for little boy.

In addition to Robert’s story we also go in-depth into what is actually a quite strong marriage, though it begins to flounder around the time of Thomas’s birth. Not one to be actively jealous of his children, Patrick Melrose still can’t help feeling hurt he’s pushed off to the back burner while his wife, Mary, becomes the role model for the perfect, doting mother. That he loves his family is never in doubt, but faced with a mid-life crisis it seems inevitable he decides he needs a bit more in his life, and he does begin to act on those impulses.

The frustration of Patrick, which matches the frustration of the dedicated Mary, is what fuels the rest of the novel. This is all very true-to-life, and if you’re a parent I’d be surprised if you couldn’t identify with at least some of this story.

This novel is very well-written, there’s no disputing that. But is it quite up to Booker Snuff? That’s what I question. I probably would never have read it if it hadn’t been on the Longlist (and if I weren’t a woman on a mission), and I am glad I did read it. It was enjoyable, very much so. It’s funny, at times thigh-slappingly so, and very tender, poignant, caring and all those other warm and fuzzy things. But is it SUPERB?

I’m not quite thinking so.

Unless the other novels really fail to thrill me, I think I’ll rule out Mother’s Milk from the running. There, I’ve put my money where my mouth is and said it! Black Swan Green for the Shortlist, and Mother’s Milk, while still a good read (and I do recommend it), not quite winning Booker gold.

Edward St. Aubyn, author of Mother’s Milk


David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green is a fantastic read thus far. The narrator is a wonderful, funny, intelligent young man and his voice is, as they say, pitch-perfect. There’s an air of mystery/intrigue to the book, in addition to the fabulously intelligent humor. Great stuff.


David Mitchell

Kate Grenville’s The Secret River is queued up to read immediately following, then I also have Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss at the ready.


As far as books ordered (which I hope will come in before I complete what I have on hand dear god let it be so!), The Other Side of the Bridge, The Emperor’s Children, Mother’s Milk and The Ruby in Her Navel are supposed to be on their way to me from four different used book sellers. Getting a Life and Gathering the Water are two I’ll be purchasing new. The rest, well, I have interlibrary requests in for several but I really don’t know if those will pan out anytime soon.

But for now, David Mitchell’s book has me completely captivated so I simply don’t much care about all the other details. Oh, but when I’ve finished I’ll be getting fidgety, you may rely on that.

In other news, I’ve received notice this morning my review copy of Susanna Childress’s Jagged With Love will be shipped out to me. This will be my first review for Jacket Magazine. What led me to select the Childress title is the fact the poet Billy Collins lauds her. Seems like enough of a reason for me.

Childress is from the American midwest, Indiana to be precise, and though ready has a list of credentials as long as my arm. Remarkable, and I can’t wait to read her book, and I’m entirely grateful to Jacket Magazine for this wonderful reviewing opportunity. I’m looking forward to a very long relationship with them.


Susanna Childress