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?
The annual Man Booker Longlist was announced today with five books from the United States – two books I’ve read, one I do not plan to read, and two with possibilities.
Here is the list – have you read any?
from the United States:
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders – my review
Autumn by Ali Smith – a lovely, sometimes humorous, testament to friendship across generations and time, the first in a four part series (think seasons)
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – Although I have not read Whitehead’s imagined rail system, my vote for a better examination of the same subject is Yaa Gaasi’s historical fiction Homegoing!
4 3 2 1 by Paul Aster – “What If” books have become popular with treatments from Kate Atkinson, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Peter Howitt, and others. Auster’s book promises to be easier to follow than most, with chronological exploration of possible lives for Archie. It’s on my to-read list.
History of Wolves by Emily Fredlund – A strange tale of a teenage babysitter in Minnesota confronting the life-and-death consequences of the things people do—and fail to do. Sounds like an intriguing 288 pages.
The rest of the list includes:
Days Without End by Sebastian Barry
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Solar Bones by Mike McCormack
Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor
Elmet by Fiona Mozley
The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
The shortlist of six books is announced in September – not much time to catch up on reading.