Told through a chorus of over 160 different voices, ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’ by George Saunders follows the aftermath of the death of Abraham Lincoln’s eleven-year-old son Willie in 1862 from typhoid fever during the American Civil War. Willie finds himself trapped between death and rebirth with other spirits in the cemetery who believe he should proceed to the next stage of the afterlife. However, Willie is resistant as he wants to spend more time with his distraught father who regularly visits the crypt to mourn his loss. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Book Awards
The longlist for the Man Booker International Prize is due to be announced on Wednesday 15th March. I am on the shadow panel again this year and have been thinking about which books could make the cut.
The pool of fiction in translation published in the UK is smaller than the huge number of books which are eligible for awards like the Man Booker Prize and Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. However, thanks to consistent championing by booksellers, bloggers and publishers helping to steadily raise the profile of translated fiction, it doesn’t actually make the predictions easier (which is ultimately a good thing, of course). I also have no knowledge of which books have actually been submitted for consideration so my choices are purely speculative. Continue reading
The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist for 2017 was announced today. The 16 books are:Stay With Me by Ayòbámi Adébáyò The Power by Naomi Alderman Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood Little Deaths by Emma Flint The Mare by Mary Gaitskill The Dark Circle by Linda Grant The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride Midwinter by Fiona Melrose The Sport of Kings by CE Morgan The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry Barkskins by Annie Proulx First Love by Gwendoline Riley Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain Continue reading
Having had some success with my Man Booker Prize predictions last year with three of my choices appearing on the longlist, I have been thinking about possible contenders for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction ahead of the longlist announcement on Wednesday 8th March.
As with my Man Booker Prize predictions list, I have been considering eligible books in terms of preferences and possibilities. There will be just 12 books on the longlist this year, down from 20 in previous years. This makes it much harder to narrow down my choices but my top personal preferences include:
This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell – O’Farrell’s seventh novel spanning across decades and continents is among her finest in my opinion.
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry – a critical and commercial success, Perry’s second novel didn’t make the Man Booker Prize longlist and it will be surprising to many if it misses out on this one too.
The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss – another book I hoped would be a Man Booker Prize contender last summer, I would really like to see Moss’s fifth novel recognised by the Baileys Prize judges. Continue reading
I have read some excellent books in 2016 both new and not-quite-so-new. Here is a selection of my favourite reads of 2016:
My reading has been dominated by female authors more than ever this year. This isn’t something I deliberately set out to achieve but it is fantastic to see so many brilliant books written by women getting widespread attention. I highly recommend The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss and The Wonder by Emma Donoghue which could be possible contenders for next year’s Wellcome Book Prize awarded to a fiction or non-fiction book about health or medicine.
I really enjoyed The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry which is one of the most original historical novels I have read in a long time while other recent favourites with a more modern setting include Swing Time by Zadie Smith, the Brexit-themed Autumn by Ali Smith and This Must Be The Place by Maggie O’Farrell. Continue reading
Formerly known as the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction has a new sponsor this year and a longlist of ten books, whittled down last month to a shortlist of just four. Open to authors of any nationality, it covers all areas of non-fiction including current affairs, politics, history, science, sport, travel, biography and autobiography. This year’s shortlisted books are:
- Second-Hand Time: The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich (translated from the Russian by Bela Shayevich)
- Negroland by Margo Jefferson
- The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between by Hisham Matar
- East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity by Philippe Sands
Shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize, ‘Do Not Say We Have Nothing’ by Madeleine Thien is a multi-generational saga of two families set against the backdrop of key events in 20th century Chinese history, from the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution to the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. In Vancouver in the early 1990s, Chinese refugee Ai-ming comes to stay with Marie whose father Jiang Kai committed suicide in 1989 when she was ten years old. Kai, a talented concert pianist, knew Ai-ming’s father Sparrow, an equally gifted composer, when they studied music in the 1960s at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music with Sparrow’s cousin Zhuli, a violin prodigy. Through fragments from a series of notebooks and diaries, Marie searches for answers about her father and his life in China during a turbulent period of the country’s history. Continue reading