Booker Prize Short List? – My Picks –

bookstackSo I’ve now read all the books on the Man Booker Long List which are available in the US –  there are three which, unless something changes, will not be here until after the prize is awarded –

**   Sunjeev Sahota (UK) – The Year of the Runaways (Picador)
**  Anna Smaill (New Zealand) – The Chimes (Sceptre)
**  Anuradha Roy (India) – Sleeping on Jupiter (MacLehose Press, Quercus)

That said – these are my picks: (the links go to my reviews)

1  (And Winner?) Hanya Yanagihara (US) – A Little Life (Picador) 9.5
2.  Marlon James (Jamaica)  A Brief  History  of  Seven  Killings (OneworldPubs) 9.5
3.  Marilynne Robinson (US) – Lila (Virago) 9.25
4.  Bill Clegg (US) – Did You Ever Have a Family (Jonathan Cape)  9.25
5.  Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria) – The Fishermen (ONE, Pushkin Press) 9
6.  Laila Lalami (US) – The Moor’s Account (Periscope, Garnet Publishing) 9

Of the 13 Long Listed books –  (see the 4 others at the bottom of this post)
7 are by women authors
5 are by authors from the US

So if my list seems a little US-heavy – that’s maybe part of why.

And the big question –  which book will win?  –   Look at the judges –

Ellah Wakatama Allfrey  – Zimbabwe  (now London)
John Burnside – Scotland
Sam Leith – England
Frances Osborne – England
Michael Wood (Chair) – England –

I think that group might prefer a Jamaican-born over a US born –  don’t know – maybe not.  I rated my top two choices the same but I suspect I may have a small US bias (heh) –  I don’t really think so –  I’ve whole-heartedly supported the winners of the last 3 years who were from Australia, New Zealand and England.  (I wasn’t too keen on the 2011 winner – from England).


And these are the Long List books which I don’t think will make the Short List along with the rating I gave them – all kind of the same, good but not winners.

Anne Enright (Ireland) – The Green Road (Jonathan Cape) 8
Tom McCarthy (UK) – Satin Island (Jonathan Cape)  8
Andrew O’Hagan (UK) – The Illuminations (Faber & Faber) 8
Anne Tyler (US) – A Spool of Blue Thread (Chatto & Windus) 8


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Did You Ever Have a Family

didyoueverhaveDid You Ever Have a Family
by Bill Clegg
2014/ 304 pages
rating – 9.25 /  contemp. fiction
(Booker Long List)

Well it was finally released – Sept. 1 – and I got into it asap – (had to finish The Cartel by Don Winslow first).

June Reid’s  family is killed in a house fire which only she survives – she was sitting outside.   Her boyfriend Luke,  a mixed-race man 20 years her junior with a jail record (although he could have been innocent),  and her 20-year old daughter Lolly, who was to be married the next day, were sleeping inside along with  Lolly’s fiancé Will and June’s ex-husband/Lolly’s father, Adam.  >>>>MORE>>>>

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The Cartel

carterThe Cartel
by Don Winslow
2015 / (640 p.)
read by Ray Porter 23h 24m
rating – A+ /  fictionalized true crime

Good stuff but very intense.  I happened on this just browsing Audible – I’ve read Don Winslow in the past but something is different here – this is not a B-level surfer-detective story.  This is fictionalized true crime – horrific true crime.  And it’s really kind of scary when you sit back from the narrative and realize that this is going on not on the border but it’s expanding.

The Cartel is a kind of sequel to Winslow’s The Power of the Dog (2006) which I haven’t read but really want to now – later.  (I need some rest from the intensity.)   That book deals with the origins of the Mexican drug gangs – up to the 1970s. In The Cartel Winslow’s focus is more on the younger generation of drug lords as they take over with increased violence and greed. He also deals with the confused and ineffective US response. >>>>MORE>>>>

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The Columbus Affair

columbusThe Columbus Affair
by Steve Berry
2012 / 165 pages
read by Scott Brick
rating –  A-

If you enjoy thrillers with a bit of  historical bent ala Dan Brown (and I did enjoy the first book but never believed it) – then The Columbus Affair might be just your cup of something.  This is the second of the two books my son gifted me and I want to get it read before the deluge of new books by old favorite authors hits in Sept.

Because very little is actually verified about Christopher Columbus he’s an apt subject for a novel like this.  At the time Columbus found the New World the Jews in Spain were under serious challenge from the inquisition.  We know that many Jews came over starting in 1494 but could Columbus, who wrote little of his own background,  have been a Jew in hiding – converted for self-preservation but still practicing his faith in private?  There is so little information and only a few clues – maybe … let’s suspend our disbelief –  >>>>MORE>>>> 

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The Morgesons

morgesonsThe Morgesons
by Elizabeth Stodard
1862 / 310 pages (K)
rating:  4 / classic US

Don’t bother unless you are really interested for some reason other than a good story, well written.  The plot is okay but after that any literary value goes straight downhill.   I think it’s because there is absolutely no rhythm to the narrative,  the characters are strange and I think they’re supposed to be humorous but that falls rather flat.

What we have is the coming-of-age story of Cassie Morgeson, a high-spirited (troublesome) girl from a strict Congregational (Puritan) family in New England circa 1860.  She hates school so gets herself kicked out.  Cassie’s sister Veronica is semi-invalid, pale, strange.  Their mother is very restricted in her words and deeds.  Aunt Merce shows some spunk if she’s living with Cassie’s family, but none at all at Gran’thers (mother’s father) who is extremely religious and strict.  Cassie and Merce live with Gran’ther for a year for the purposes of Cassie’s schooling.   >>>>MORE>>>> 

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The Game of Silence

gameofsilenThe Game of Silence
by Louise Erdrich
2006 / 288 pages
read by Anna Fields
rating –  8

I searched for a book to read for Indigenous Literature Week celebrated at the ANZ LitLovers blog –   I wanted to read another Australian book but I couldn’t find one I haven’t read which is available in the US as well as in ebook format (easier on my eyes).

I did find a book by Louise Erdrich which I hadn’t read and that will have to do – I love Erdrich’s books and have a read a good number of them.  Nice to read another one.

The Game of Silence is really a young adult book (junior high/early high school?) describing the life of a family of Ojibwe living at the  >>>>MORE>>>> 

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Long Way Down

longwaydownLong Way Down
by Michael Sears
2015/ (341 pages)
read by David Chandler 10h 35m
rating:  A / crime

I’m a sucker for economics/financial books like Michael Lewis’ non-fiction Flash Boys or in fiction,  Michael Sears.  Long Way Down is the third and most recent in his Jason Stafford series and it’s soooo satisfying.

The first-person Stafford is an ex-con, convicted of stock market finagling as a trader, he served several years behind bars but has reinvented himself as a fraud investigator for big financial concerns.  As such he works both sides – for the companies and for law enforcement and he’s trusted by both.   >>>>MORE>>>>

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