Man Booker Challenge 2014

As is becoming an annual tradition, over the past six weeks I’ve been reading and blogging my way through the Man Booker Prize shortlist. My goal is always to attempt to finish the lot before the winner is announced – however I’ve never actually managed it, and this year has been no exception! I’ve managed five out of the six this year, but having only just started the sixth I’m extremely unlikely to have finished it before the winner is announced this evening!

I’ve been hugely impressed with the shortlist this year. There’s only been one I didn’t enjoy – the rest are all incredibly strong, and I don’t envy the judges needing to pick just one winner!.

Every year when I’ve read the shortlist, I’ve attempted to guess which should be the winner. So far I have a 0% success rate at this – but that’s not going to stop me from trying again šŸ˜‰

My reviews of each book are up on the Leeds Book Club blog. Links below, along with my brief thoughts on each…

  • J, by Howard Jacobson – wonderful. Important, disturbing and thought-provoking but also witty and human.
  • To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, by Joshua Ferris – probably the weakest on the list. Entertaining enough, but not really Booker material!
  • We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler – bloody marvellous. Had me in tears more than once – I’ve been recommending it to everyone I know!
  • How to be both, by Ali Smith – beautiful! Challenging and experimental, but well worth the effort
  • The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan – gripping and thought-provoking, but let down by the under-developed female characters.

So, thoughts on a likely winner? Well, history suggests it’ll probably be the one I haven’t read yet, so perhaps the smart money should be on Neel Mukherjee’sĀ The Lives of Others! Out of the ones I’ve read though, my favourite is probablyĀ We are all completely beside ourselves, orĀ How to be both – picking just one favourite is very hard this year! Picking who I think could/should win is even harder. Out of those two, I thinkĀ How to be both is the stronger novel, so my fingers are crossed for Ali Smith to beĀ theĀ first Scottish woman to win the prize!

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