The following 6 books have been chosen for the shortlist for this year’s Man Booker Prize.
The winner of the Booker prize will be announced next Tuesday 10th October but I thought we could have some fun and see if we can guess which one is the likely winner.
So read the short descriptions of each book below and based on that information select one that you think is the likely winner.
Then when the poll expired we can see if we were right.
The Night Watch
Moving back through the 1940s, through air raids, blacked out streets, illicit liaisons, sexual adventure, to end with its beginning in 1941, The Night Watch is the work of a truly brilliant and compelling storyteller. This is the story of four Londoners – three women and a young man with a past, drawn with absolute truth and intimacy. Kay, who drove an ambulance during the war and lived life at full throttle, now dresses in mannish clothes and wanders the streets with a restless hunger, searching …Helen, clever, sweet, much-loved, harbours a painful secret …Viv, glamour girl, is stubbornly, even foolishly loyal, to her soldier lover …Duncan, an apparent innocent, has had his own demons to fight during the war. Their lives, and their secrets connect in sometimes startling ways. War leads to strange alliances …Tender, tragic and beautifully poignant, set against the backdrop of feats of heroism both epic and ordinary, here is a novel of relationships that offers up subtle surprises and twists. The Night Watch is thrilling. A towering achievement.
The Inheritance of Loss
At the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas, lives an embittered old judge who wants nothing more than to retire in peace. But with the arrival of his orphaned granddaughter, Sai, and his cook’s son trying to stay a step ahead of US immigration services, this is far from easy. When a Nepalese insurgency threatens Sai’s blossoming romance with her handsome tutor they are forced to consider their colliding interests. The judge must revisit his past, his own journey and his role in this grasping world of conflicting desires every moment holding out the possibility for hope or betrayal.
Carry Me Down
John Egan is a misfit, ‘a twelve-year old in the body of a grown man with the voice of a giant who insists on the ridiculous truth’. With an obsession for the “Guinness Book of Records” and faith in his ability to detect when adults are lying, John remains hopeful despite the unfortunate cards life deals him. During one year in John’s life, from his voice breaking, through the breaking-up of his home life, to the near collapse of his sanity, we witness the gradual unsticking of John’s mind, and the trouble that creates for him and his family. Set in early seventies Ireland, “Carry Me Down” is a deeply sympathetic take on one sad boyhood, told in gripping, and at times unsettling, prose. It plays out its tragic plot against a disarmingly familiar background and refuses to portray any of its lovingly drawn characters as easy heroes or villains.
In the Country of Men
On a white-hot day in Tripoli, Libya, in the summer of 1979, nine-year-old Suleiman is shopping in the market square with his mother. His father is away on business – except that he is sure he has just seen his father, standing across the street in a pair of dark glasses. But, why isn’t he waving? And, why doesn’t he come over when he knows Suleiman’s mother is falling apart? From a breathtaking new talent comes an utterly gripping, incredibly emotional novel told from the point of view of a young boy growing up in a terrifying and bewildering world where his best friend’s father disappears and is next seen on state television at a public execution; where a mysterious man sits outside the house all day and asks strange questions; where his mother and uncle burn all his father’s books when they know what an avid reader he is; and when it seems his father has finally disappeared for good. Soon, the whispers and fears, secrets and lies will become so intense that Suleiman can bear them no longer and in his terrified effort to save his family may end up betraying his friends, his parents and ultimately himself.
The novel’s perspective ricochets among all members of the Melrose family – the family featured in St. Aubyn’s praised trilogy, “Some Hope” – starting with Robert, who provides an exceptionally droll and compelling account of being born; to Patrick, a hilariously churlish husband who has been sexually abandoned by his wife in favour of his sons; to Mary, who’s consumed by her children and an overwhelming desire not to repeat the mistakes of her own mother. All the while, St. Aubyn examines the web of false promises that entangle this once-illustrious family whose last vestige of wealth – an old house in the south of France – is about to be donated by Patrick’s mother to a New Age foundation. An up-to-the-minute dissection of the mores of child-rearing, marriage, adultery, and assisted suicide, “Mother’s Milk” showcases Edward St. Aubyn’s luminous and acidic prose – and his masterful ability to combine the most excruciating emotional pain with the driest comedy. Absorb “Mother’s Milk” into your and bloodstream and postnatal depression will never seem the same again… “A masterpiece. Edward St. Aubyn is a writer of immense gifts. His wit, his profound intelligence and his exquisite control of a story that rapidly descends to the lower depths before somehow painfully rising again – all go to distinguish the trilogy as fiction of a truly rare and extraordinary quality” – Patrick McGrath on “Some Hope”.
The Secret River
This story is set in London, 1807. William Thornhill, happily wedded to his childhood sweetheart Sal, is a waterman on the River Thames. Life is tough but bearable until William makes a mistake, a bad mistake for which he and his family are made to pay dearly. His sentence: to be transported to New South Wales for the term of his natural life. The Thornhills arrive in this harsh and alien land that they cannot understand and which feels like a death sentence. But, among the convicts there is a rumour that freedom can be bought, that ‘unclaimed’ land up the Hawkesbury offers an opportunity to start afresh, far away from the township of Sydney. When William takes a hundred acres for himself, he is shocked to find Aboriginal people already living on the river. And other recent arrivals – Thomas Blackwood, Smasher Sullivan and Mrs. Herring – are finding their own ways to respond to them. Soon Thornhill, a man neither better nor worse than most, has to make the most difficult decision of his life…
There was a program on last Sunday about the books, (BBC2 Culture Show) and they had a composer set each book to music after discussing the overall plot with each author, and had the Booker judges chose the book by listening to the music only.
In the Country of Men won that little fun exercise, I don’t know if that’s an indication of what will actually happen next week though.
That one and Carry me Down both sound interesting as does The Secret River which is an Australian book, although I have read a few similar books in this setting.