I’ve finished my Booker Quest, with two weeks to spare. The winner will be announced in just under two weeks. I don’t really have much an issue with the short list announced three weeks ago, with the exception of Tom McCarthy‘s C, which I found puzzling and ponderous. I’d include all of the six near the top (as opposed to the bottom). Oh, if I had my druthers, I’d replace McCarthy (or Howard Jacobson‘s The Finkler Question) with David Mitchell‘s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.
For those who champion McCarthy as a new direction in fiction, I’d argue that my two top picks (1 and 1A if you will) are every bit as unusual, creative, and surprising as C is supposed to be. So. A few more words (more comments below on the Booker page) about my two top picks.
Damon Galgut’s In A Strange Room is a compelling, at times gut-wrenching, marvellously different novel. Some may say it’s not a novel at all. Whatever it is, it’s memorably thoughtful and thought-provoking. And it would be a worthy recipient, were it not for Emma Donoghue‘s Room.
This is a book that is just jaw droppingly unique. I tried to explain it to someone the other day, and it’s just not possible. It sounds like a different novel than the one I read when I describe it to someone. So it seems I’ll just have to fall back on the old stand-by: You just have to read it yourself to appreciate it. I was so impressed that, I’m starting her Slammerkin now. A sure sign that I liked her writing very much. I’d be very happy if Donoghue wins, but not at all disappointed if Galgut does. I actually think the Donoghue has a better chance than Galgut to take home the prize, though. Of the six left (after the two I just referred to) there’s Peter Carey’s book, Parrot and Olivier in America, which would not be a shock had he not won two already.
The top six (my personal short list), make a fairly strong selection of novels. The drop off after those though, is, if not precipitous, then at least well-defined. Read a good book. There’s a few here without a doubt.