Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Booker Prize list announced

In one of the best years for writing for a while, the judges of the Man Booker Prize have announced a weighty, yet relatively short longlist of nominees for the Booker Prize 2005. It is choc-a-bloc with must-read books, including a few that are as-yet unpublished.

  • The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw
       - Set in Malaysia, it tells the tale of a bold Malaysian businessman during World War II, in the form of a triptych

  • The Sea by John Banville
       - A tale of coming-of-age, life's end, and other rites of passage at an Irish coastal town

  • Arthur & George by Julian Barnes
       - A creative book, alternating the tales of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and George Edalji, and a mystery of sorts

  • A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry
       - A dark novel about Ireland and the Great War, vignettes of times forgotten and pains endured

  • Slow Man by JM Coetzee
       - Out in September, this is a tale of meditation on what makes us human, on growing old and about Elizabeth Costello

  • In the Fold by Rachel Cusk
       - A British comedy of manners and morals

  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
       - Deep insights into science, ethics, childhood and boarding schools

  • All For Love by Dan Jacobson
       - A comic melodrama, if one could describe a book thus, set in the waning days of the Hapsburg Empire.

  • A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
       - Comic farce among Ukranian immigrants to England

  • Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel
       - A traveling psychic deconstructs middle-class England

  • Saturday by Ian McEwan
       - A richly-layered post-9/11, post-Iraq war portrait of the way we are, and were.

  • The People’s Act of Love by James Meek
       - It is strange that a book due in 2006 would be on this year's list, but critics are blown away by proof copies of this novel set in 1919 Siberia

  • Shalimar The Clown by Salman Rushdie
       - The book I am most looking forward to, Salman takes up a tale set in the vales of Kashmir, the assassination of the American ambassador to India, clowns turned terrorists, and weaves in planes crashing into distant towers, Nazi France, and Shalimar's arrival in Los Angeles. His last book, Fury, was released on 9/11/2001, and was somewhat disappointing, seeming like mere navel-gazing [Editor:Take this to a review page]

  • The Accidental by Ali Smith
       - Another 2006 imprint, it deals with an unexpected guest, and a child' vision of the world

  • On Beauty by Zadie Smith
       - Similar to Howard's End, and set in a world of wars, yet permeated with beauty, such as Rembrandt's paintings. Her last novel, White Teeth, was a blend of Bangladesh and Jamaica, this time she blends black and white, WASP and non-WASP.

  • This Thing Of Darkness by Harry Thompson
       - A historical tale about the 19th century voyages of the Beagle, and Charles Darwin's relationship with Captain Fitzroy, by England's popular television producer

  • This Is The Country by William Wall
       - Travels through Ireland, finding oneself. and the divide between the city and the country

A very globalized list, depicting the zeitgeist, showing the richness of writing from the Commonwealth, and disproving the much-rumored death of the novel, and representative to some extent of popular taste, at least in the reading public. Odds-on favorites for the shortlist, I believe, include the Rushdie, the Ishiguro, the McEwan, the Barnes and the Ali Smith, but judges have been capricious in the past, and could end up choosing a list that has a few young'uns. J K Rowling could not be reached for comment on her omission, the sixth in a row, though in unrelated news, she responded to some allegations and rumors through scraps thrown in her website's rubbish bin, categorizing the notes as,Starting to Smell | Excessive Additives | Recycled | Mouldy | Pure Garbage | Toxic

The prize is open to fiction writers from the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. The shortlist will be announced on September 8, and the winner of the award will be announced at a ceremony at the Guildhall in London on October 10.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Shalimar the Clown : A Novel/Salman Rushdie The Harmony Silk Factory/Tash  Aw Arthur and George/Julian Barnes A Long Long Way: A Novel/Sebastian  Barry Slow Man/J. M.  Coetzee In the Fold : A Novel/Rachel Cusk Never Let Me Go/Kazuo Ishiguro A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian : A Novel/Marina  Lewycka Beyond Black : A Novel (John MacRae Books (Hardcover))/Hilary Mantel On Beauty/Zadie  Smith

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Time traveler, world traveler, book reader