Thursday, November 18, 2010

The rest of the Man Booker Finalists are here!

I make a point of reading (or at least considering) the finalists for several book awards. In 2003, I actually managed to read all five finalists for the National Book Award before the winner was announced (The Great Fire, by Shirley Hazzard), but that’s a feat I have never again managed. The Man Booker Prize, awarded to books by writers in Great Britain, Ireland and the British Commonwealth, is a favorite source of provocative reads, and RPL now has copies of all six 2010 finalists.

This year’s winner is The Finkler Question, by Howard Jacobson. Jacobson has been called the “English Phillip Roth,” but would be preferred to be known as the “Jewish Jane Austen.” First published in the United States in paperback, The Finkler Question is a comic examination of “Jewishness” and the experience of being Jewish in England. I enjoyed his 2008 Kalooki Nights, a dark (very dark) comedy about modern Jews and the legacies of the Holocaust.
Room, by Emma Donoghue, is narrated by a five-year old child who has spent his entire life in the tool shed where he and his mother have been imprisoned by a sexual pervert. I expected it to be depressing at best, but was wonderfully surprised to find it moving and uplifting and even funny. I gobbled it up in one long read.

I am in the middle of C (yes – that’s the entire title), by Tom McCarthy, a post-modern puzzle box of a novel that was favored to win. While I admire McCarthy’s virtuosity, I am still waiting to be engaged by his characters. The other finalists are Australian Peter Carey’s Parrot and Olivier in America (also a National Book Award finalist), a picaresque romp across 18th century America by an unlikely duo; Andrea Levy’s The Long Song, about slavery in 19th century Jamaica; and In a Strange Room from South African Damon Galgut, a three-part tale of ill-fated journeys on three continents, and just in at RPL.

And what about the National Book Award? Has anyone read any of this year's fiction finalists? The winner, announced this week, is Jaimy Gordon's Lord of Misrule.

1 comment:

Ellen said...

I hated "C", loved Parrot & Olivier, am now reading The Long Song.