On the eve of the winning announcement for the Man Booker Prize, I offer a few of my thoughts on this year's contenders. Though I make many attempts to read the shortlist for each year's prize, my U.S. residence makes this difficult. Why publishers do not take full advantage of a book's nomination for such a prestigious prize, I do not know. Maybe US publishers believe people in the US do not care. Maybe they don't and I'm just an odd duck. Reasons aside, I tried to get my hands on a copy of the one novel not yet published in the US, Sahota's The Year of the Runaways, but was unsuccessful. Here are my thoughts on the other nominees.
The Fishermen - Obioma. This is my personal favorite of the bunch--the only story that kept my attention from beginning to end. The language and structure are all expertly done. The characters in this novel weren't perhaps as strong as some of the characters in the other contenders, but this novel's greatest detriment to winning the prize is probably its straight-forward approach and lack of epic, groundbreaking story. This is a wonderful novel, but it may suffer from being too traditional.
A Brief History of Seven Killings - James. Not my favorite, but I wouldn't complain if James' novel about Jamaica won. It's too long. It's too violent. But aside from these complaints A Brief History of Seven Killings is quite a good story. James nails the voices of this myriad of characters and the structure, while slightly confusing, lends to the story.
A Little Life - Yanagihara. Many are predicting A Little Life for the win. As someone who was familiar with Yanagihara before this book surprisingly became all the rage, I am quite in awe at its success. I know I'm in the minority, but I was largely disappointed with this celebrated novel. The lack of realism takes away from any relevance the subject might otherwise have made. The author is clearly a wonderful writer and certainly to be celebrated, but personally I thought this work failed. I'll not be surprised if A Little Life takes the prize, but I will be disappointed.
A Spool of Blue Thread - Tyler. Tyler's most recent novel starts off slow, but it builds itself upon some really great characters that carry the story through its best moments. Unfortunately, midway, the author forgets these characters, the story loses focus, and the book becomes a chore to read. In the end, A Spool of Blue Thread lacks the thread of continuity required to pull this story together. I doubt this one can bring home the prize, but it certainly wouldn't be the first time in the prize's history that the unlikely won.
Satin Island - McCarthy. The style nominee in this year's lineup. Satin Island is for the thinkers. I'm cool with that. I like books that make me ponder. But McCarthy's novel only left me with thoughts of "what was I supposed to have gotten out of that?" No story. Minimal character development. Many attempts at philosophy. Aside from points it earns for the author's reputation and previous nominations, Satin Island seems least likely to win.
Share your predictions if you have them. What books from the list did you particularly enjoy?