Although I have only read two books on this year’s Man Booker shortlist, I would read them again. Both were books I started to listen to on audible and then switched by the first one hundred pages to reading online, to better savor the nuances. George Saunders Lincoln in the Bardo was a complicated chorus of voices accompanying Abraham Lincoln as he fought to make peace not only with his young son’s death but also a battered nation during the Civil War. Autumn was Ali Smith’s gentle nod to the battering of circumstances (Brexit) and the relationship of time to life. Both books have a lot to say about personal perspective and national angst. Both are award winning novels and well deserve to be on the shortlist.
The others on the list now have my attention; Sewall Chan quickly summarized each for the New York Times:
- Paul Auster’s “4 3 2 1” – the story of a young American, Ferguson, across much of the 20th century, in four different versions. Events like the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement “reverberate around and through what’s happening in Ferguson’s life.”
- Fridlund’s debut novel, “History of Wolves” about a wild adolescent, Linda, who lives on a commune in the Midwest and is changed by the arrival of a young family.
- Mohsin Hamid’s “Exit West,” about a couple uprooted by turmoil, in an unnamed city swollen by the arrival of refugees.
- Fiona Mozley’sdebut novel, “Elmut,” about an English child’s struggle to survive and his memories of Daddy, a moody, bare-knuckle fighter who defies rural social norms.
Fridlund’s story catches my interest, but I’m not sure I will read the others. Have you?
Review: Lincoln in the Bardo