I must admit that I was surprised this past Tuesday when I learned that Anna Burns won the 2018 Man Booker Prize for her novel “Milkman.” Before you select it as a choice for your book clubs, please be advised that it is a difficult read. I struggled mightily getting into the flow of the narrative, finally becoming deeply engaged in the story about halfway through the book.
“Milkman” is the tale of a young woman embroiled in the intrigues of Belfast in The Troubles of the 1970s. It is told compellingly in her voice in a Kafkaesque narrative. Obscurity of place and name is intentional. The setting of the book, unmentioned Belfast, is a dark and confining place, a city of intrigue and perpetual conflict, where neutrality in the struggle is not an option for its residents.
Anna Burns becomes the first author from Northern Ireland to win the coveted Booker. “Milkman” will not be available in the States until December 11th.
The Man Booker prize longlist was announced this evening. There are some very familiar literary names on the list, including Arundhati Roy, the Indian author win won the prize twenty years ago for The God of Small Things, as well two writers who have been shortlisted twice, the British novelist Ali Smith and the Irish author Sebastian Barry. Four Americans are longlisted, four British, two British-Pakistani, two Irish and one Indian. There are seven men and six women. Here is the 2017 longlist:
4321 by Paul Auster
Days Without End by Sebastian Barry
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
Exit West by Moshin Hamid
Solar Bones by Mike McCormack
Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor
Elmet by Fiona Mozley
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
Autumn by Ali Smith
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
My class on the Man Booker Literary Prize will be starting January 10 at the Oakton Community College Emeritus program. There will be six sessions on Tuesday mornings. The final session is February 14. Here is the reading list:
In a Free State by V.S. Naipaul
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle
White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald
Amsterdam by Ian McEwan
Registration begins on November 14.You can register online at http://www.oakton.edu/conted or by phone at 847-982-9888
It’s that time of year again! The 2016 Man Booker Prize longlist will be announced tomorrow at noon London time. Those of you who have been reading this blog over the last five years know that I post frequently on the competition, including reviews of the selections. Those among you who wager, please take note that I have picked the last two winners, so following my blog might be advantageous to you. I’ll be up tomorrow morning at 6:00 am Chicago time posting the longlist.
Those of you who have been following my blog during the last four years know how keenly interested I am in the Man Booker Prize competition. The announcement of the 2015 longlist is July 29th, sometime between noon and 5 pm, London Time. Then on September 25th, the elimination process results in the selection of the shortlist. Finally the winner is declared on October 13th. Not all longlisted books will be available on July 29th. Obviously more in the UK than in the States. If not already, consider becoming a follower of my blog, and get Man Booker updates and book reviews throughout the selection process.
“J,” Howard Jacobson’s Man Booker Prize shortlisted novel, is being described as both Orwellian and dystopian. The book’s narrative is brilliantly and chillingly depicted sometime in the not too distant future. Jacobson, through hints and allusions, reveals the occurrence of a second Holocaust suffered by the Jewish people. Inconceivable, you say?
Yet, it is a fact that in today’s Europe, Jews have become marginalized once again. Jews are leaving France in droves due to the overt anti-Semitism there. Throughout Europe, observant Jews wearing conspicuous yarmulkes are often targets of verbal, and occasionally, physical abuse.
Jacobson utilizes a heavy dose of Swiftian and Rabelaisian satirical wit to make the inconceivable conceivable. Reading “J” requires patience. You will find yourself rereading passages as it is easy to miss cogent allusions as the story unfolds.
Once you finish the book, there is a sudden realization that you have read a masterpiece, subtly terrifying as it may be.
The Man Booker Prize 2013 Shortlist has just been announced. It includes:
We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
Harvest by Jim Crace
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin
I have read four of the six, as the Lahiri and Catton books are not out in the States yet. I was frankly surprised that Colum McCann’s TransAtlantic wasn’t shortlisted and Colm Toibin’s The Testament of Mary was, since the latter is essentially a novella, and it has been customary not to include such short works of fiction as finalists. I think that the Ozeki novel is the sleeper in the group, and let’s see if she or Catton will be the next Canadian to claim the Prize since Yann Martel for Life of Pi in 2002. And will NoViolet Bulawayo be the first Black woman to win a Man Booker?