Hurrah! The Oscars for the literary world is around the corner. Yesterday the Man Booker Longlist for 2014 was announced and the list has been agreed upon by a panel of judges. The award is renowned and the past two winners were Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries (2013) and Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies (2012). This year is also the first time American literature is being considered.
Looking at the list, I’m ashamed to say I haven’t read any of the works. But can I use the excuse that I have just finished university and have been using my time to read the books I have waiting on my shelf and not really looking at contemporary reads?
Anyway, I thought it might be useful to provide a sentence or two about what I can deduce from the blurb of each book, so here we go! (Note: A few of these haven’t been published yet)
The Rise Again at Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris- Paul O’Rourke is a 40 year- old bad-tempered dentist who’s in for a surprise when he discovers Facebook and Twitter accounts under his name.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan- Takes place in the harsh conditions of a Japanese POW camp and follows the trials of a surgeon who is tormented by an affair he had with a married woman two years earlier… and then he receives a life-altering letter.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler- Rosemary has just started college and she no longer talks. She also no longer has a sister or brother and she’s about to tell her story, from the end to the beginning.
The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt- Harriet Burden is an underappreciated artist who decides to present her work behind male fronts. But, even after she reveals herself, there are some who refuse to credit her as the true artist. This novel is presented after Harriet’s death and through varying testimonies and letters.
J by Howard Jacobson- Set in the future, two people fall in love. But there’s a catch- the past is a mystery referred to as What Happened, If It Happened and neither of the characters know whether their love is the real deal or part of a bigger plot.
The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth- Post-apocalyptic story set three years after the Norman invasion in 1066 where a man joins a group of guerrilla fighters against the invaders.
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell- In 1984, Holly, a teenage runaway, meets an old woman who offers her an act of kindness in exchange for asylum. A seemingly vague exchange at the time, it’s years before Holly understands what the asylum was and how she plays a part in a murderous feud.
The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee- It’s 1967 Calcutta and Supratik has become a political activist and while the world around him changes, family secrets implode and threaten to disturb the cordiality.
Us by David Nicholls- Douglas’s 21 year-old marriage is breaking down and his wife is planning to leave him after his son departs for university. But Douglas devises a plan to win back his wife during a summer filled with a tour of Europe’s major cities.
The Dog by Joseph O’Neill- A New York attorney accepts a job offer in Dubai as the overseer of a massive family fortune. But is this new job as easy as he had assumed?
Orfeo by Richard Powers- Seventy-year old composer Peter has to flee his home after his lab, which investigates musical patterns in DNA, is deemed suspicious by security. Labelled the ‘Bioterrorist Bach’, he jets across the country, encountering help along the way as he hopes that this disaster may be turned into an artwork that no one saw coming.
How to be Both by Ali Smith- A book about art and that’s all I can say because it doesn’t really have a plot and I don’t know what to summarise.
History of the Rain by Niall Williams- Ruth is the bedridden daughter of a deceased poet and has decided to use the time to find out about her father through the vast collection of books that he left behind.
If anyone has read any of these I would like to know what you thought! I’d like to read a few of these but I don’t even know where to start! I think a lot of these sound amazing, particularly The Narrow Road to the Deep North, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, J, The Bone Clocks, Us and History of the Rain.
The shortlist will be announced on the 9th of September and the winner in the month after that.