A few years ago I spent a lot of time in August and September reading through the Booker longlist with a group of online friends as a shadow panel. We read, discussed, and picked our winner, and it was a ton of fun, especially our discussions. We all got tired of the endeavor eventually, but it was great fun for a couple years.
These days, I and other book twitter friends are more excited about the Booker International Prize, as those lists tend to be more surprising and varied and just generally more interesting. It’s still fun to follow the main prize, though. Here are the books, along with a few thoughts about them.
- The New Wilderness by Diane Cook. I hadn’t heard of this but it’s now on my TBR.
- This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga. I was vaguely aware of this book — it’s published by Graywolf and I pay attention to what they publish, but this hadn’t looked at this one closely. It’s described as “A searing novel about the obstacles facing women in Zimbabwe, by one of the country’s most notable authors.”
- Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi. I put this on my list. The publisher says it’s for fans of Jenny Offill and Deborah Levy, and if that’s true, I will like it.
- Who They Was by Gabriel Krauze. I hadn’t heard of this one either. It doesn’t look like it’s available in the U.S.?
- The Mirror & The Light by Hilary Mantel. I read the first book in this trilogy and I admired it but I wasn’t inspired to read further. Hilary Mantel is great, yes, but I’m tired of seeing the same names on this list!
- Apeirogon by Colum McCann. Not a fan. I read Transatlantic and it was fine but not terribly exciting. I’ve also heard McCann has some #metoo problems, so I’m avoiding him.
- The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste. Wasn’t aware of this one. Here’s the description: “A gripping novel set during Mussolini’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, The Shadow King takes us back to the first real conflict of World War II, casting light on the women soldiers who were left out of the historical record.”
- Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. I listened to this on audio and it was great. Rick read and liked it as well. It’s an engaging story about parenting and nannies and race and white people who royally mess things up.
- Real Life by Brandon Taylor. I read this one a month or so ago and loved it. More thoughts here.
- Redhead by The Side of The Road by Anne Tyler. Why Anne Tyler?? I don’t get it. She’s a solid novelist, and I’ve read maybe two of her books and they were fine, but they aren’t terribly exciting. She’s been longlisted for the Booker twice and I just don’t think her books are interesting enough for a major prize.
- Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart. Sounds interesting: “Shuggie Bain is the unforgettable story of young Hugh ‘Shuggie’ Bain, a sweet and lonely boy who spends his 1980s childhood in run-down public housing in Glasgow, Scotland.”
- Love and Other Thought Experiments by Sophie Ward. I don’t know what to make of this one. I love philosophical novels, but this one involves an ant crawling into someone’s eye and getting stuck there? Intriguing and also gross?
- How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang. I have this one on audio and hope to read it soon. I’ve heard amazing things.
Any plans to read any of these?