Saturday, August 1, 2009

It's An Honor Just To Be Nominated

Flower, Flower, Flower.

I know that you love award shows but how do you feel about awards? I'm all for them. The more the better.

My fav award is the Man Booker Prize. I know. There's no red carpet, but if there was guarantee everyone would be badly dressed, don't you think? Hilariously so. The bad-ness might be Grammy level only with more florals and boiled wool. Oh and picture if you will the hair! Is my fancy for Man a mere sideline of my supreme attachment to books? Oh no my friend!

It's the whole Long List /Short List thing. It builds anticipation. I love that first you get the 13 books that the judges have selected from out of every novel published by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. There's some reading for you. How many titles do you think that is? 40,000? 60,000? Are they all read by the judges? Let's just say, no. Then about a month later the Short List comes along. The 13 get shaved down to 5. Then a month after that comes the winner.

Here is this year's Long List with U.S. availability noted:

The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt---due out in September, hardcover
Summertime by J. M. Coetzee--- due out in October, hardcover
The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds ---no date yet for U.S. release
How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall ---due in September, paperback
The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey ---available, hardcover
Me Cheeta by James Lever ---available, hardcover
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel ---due out in October, hardcover
The Glass Room by Simon Mawer--- no date yet for U.S. release
Not Untrue & Not Unkind by Ed O'Loughlin--- no date yet for U.S. release
Heliopolis by James Scudamore --- no date yet for U.S. release
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin ---available, hardcover
Love and Summer by William Trevor ---due out in September, hardcover
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters ---available, hardcover

The Man Booker judicial chair, James Naughtie, says:

"The five Man Booker judges have settled on thirteen novels as the longlist for this year's prize. We believe it to be one of the strongest lists in recent memory, with two former winners, four past-shortlisted writers, three first-time novelists and a span of styles and themes that make this an outstandingly rich fictional mix."

I'll not argue.

I have done fairly well with the Long List. The really long list of all novels published in the Commonwealth this year, no so much. I have read: "The Little Stranger", "Me Cheeta", "Brooklyn" and "The Wilderness". Waiting to be read are "Wolf Hall" and "The Children's Book". I adored Stranger, found Cheeta to be old Hollywood gossip sewn together with a clever hook but ultimately a bit dull and sad, Brooklyn is a gorgeous, clear-eyed love story, and Wilderness is a heartbreaker about a novelist with Alzheimer’s.

Any books that I think should have made the Long List? hmmmmm... "Winter Vault" by Anne Michaels. A beautiful novel about a young couple in Egypt in 1964. The husband is there as an engineer working on the move of Abu Simbel. The wife is a botanist with a passion for anything that comes out of the Earth. The intensity of the temple move, the ethics involved, childhood memories and a tragic loss forces the couple to circle around love and grief, destruction and rebirth. The fluidity of Michael's writing is flawless. She has the precision of a master short story writer and the understanding of human psyche of Jung.

Any others? Not that come to mind immediately, but I'll think about it.


P.S. If judge James Naughtie's name is really pronounced naughty---I'm dying just like any other 12 would be.

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