So, on Tuesday 6th September, the same night PJ Harvey stormed to the most predictable and deserved Mercury Prize of all time, The Booker Prize Shortlist was announced, to pretty much bugger all fanfare. And deservingly so; this is probably the weakest shortlist (on paper) in years, certainly that I can remember (apart from maybe 2006). Bearing in mind I haven't read any of these:
Julian Barnes - A Sense of an Ending. Booker regular, so reeks a bit of 'should have given him it before'. Raising a few hackles because of it's length (less than 150 pages apparently) but since much shorter books have been nominated, can't see the problem. Probably the book in this I'd be most likely to read as I quite like his writing style, but it sound a bit dull. It's some kind of ruminations/how much live got fucked up/someone i know is dying things.
Carol Birch - Jamrach's Menagerie - Sounds completely all over the place, with pirates, dragons and witches and 18th century shit that couldn't get me interested if it whacked me over the head sideways.
Patrick deWitt - The Sisters Brothers. Another ropey title. This is described as a 'dlightfull dark offbeat western' which puts me off right away. Scores a few points because it's set in American and written by a Canadian (Canadians are allowed to enter the Booker, Americans are not, hence why a US set book is unusual).
Esi Edugyna - Half Blood Blues. Has a fucking awful front cover (one of those 'silhouettes pondering over a famous landmark jobs') and set during the second world war (yawn). Given an interesting twist given it's about people in a folk band dicking over each over with the backdrop of Nazi Europe, but really not something I'm in any way inspired to read.
Stephen Kelman - Pigeon English. Inpsired by the murder of Damilola Taylor, this rather self conscious attempt to captre the essence of modern britain ticks a lot of book group boxes, and it's written from the perspective of a child, which always bodes well for a best seller. Doesn't sound too special to me, but then knife crime doesn't generally.
A.D. Miller - Snowdrops. Another 'silhoutte approaching a shadow in the snow' cover. This is a Robert Harris-esque Russian crime novel that wouldn't have a whiff of even approaching the Booker Prize were the judges this year not comprised of Stella Rimington (a published crime writer) and several other judges who have also pubclished crime novels in some form. Probably a good thrilling yarn, but not a typical Booker book by any means.
I'll be reading the winner as usual. But for once, I don't have any motivation to plough through the shortlist.
I'm reading The Trial. Thanks whoever recommended it. I'm thoroughly enjoying it.