25 August 2013

2013 Booker Longlist

FYI: The Booker longlist came out like a month ago.

The only one I've read is The Testament of Mary, by Colm Toibin. Which a lot of people I know really liked, and I couldn't really get into. It's a disembodied monologue, which is challenging enough, but it's also kind of ramble-y and abstract and I just didn't really get what she was talking about half the time. Maybe I was overly tired or not in the right frame of mind. But it just didn't do much for me.

I don't pay a whole lot of attention to literary prizes, but with the Booker, I have this weird conviction that the short list is pretty reliably good, and that whatever actually wins is typically not that great. There also seems to be a concerted effort to be "multicultural," which is vaguely entertaining to track.

I do typically try to read something by the Nobel prize winner every year, but I don't always succeed. I tend to think a lot of those choices are obviously politically motivated and sometimes aren't really deserved.

I don't follow the PEN awards really at all, but if I'm looking at something in a bookstore and see that it's won, I usually take that as a very good sign. Though off-hand, I'm not sure what I'm basing that off of other than Kate Christensen's The Great Man, which is a really fantastic book.

I don't follow the Pulitzer either, but looking at the list of fiction winners, I am inclined to think they are mostly well-written books that make for pleasurable reading, though they have a faint whiff of the middle-brow about them (what a horrid thing to say!). I am inclined to say that they all make for excellent airplane reading - absorbing but not necessarily challenging. Maybe this is because I recently read Olive Kitteredge, and that's how I felt about it. It's an excellent book. Very well written, very enjoyable to read, wonderful reflections on the ways in which people are interconnected, but something in me turns up my nose a little at it. You find yourself thinking, this is the perfect Christmas present for the middle-aged female readers in your life (and I feel gross saying that). Which also reminds me that I want to read this.

Anyways. I started down this rabbit hole because I was writing a post on Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine, which brought me back to the comments thread on a past Woody Allen review, and I figured it was worth a post.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really liked Tash Aw's 'Five Star Billionaire'. It was written very well and the descriptions of Malaysia and China, particularly Shanghai, were wonderful!