2 disappointments and 1 soaring success

sundaysalonI’ve now read two of the 2015 Booker longlist titles; neither of which I think will be declared the winner.  Andrew O’Hagan’s The Illuminations was a far better novel than Anne Enright’s The Green Road in the sense it actually had a message but both were rather straight-forward stories. No real experimentation with form such as we’ve seen from recent winners like Hilary Mantel and Eleanor Catton. Maybe the judges are not looking for that especially but I would expect them hone in on a novel that has a unique quality, one that stands out from the crowd in one respect or another. Neither O’Hagan or Enright did that for me. Maybe my next Booker longlist contender A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara will be more remarkable. It’s the early favourite for this year’s award but the judges have not always followed the popular vote so I wouldn’t put a lot of faith in the betting odds.

thesnowkimonoFortunately the disappointing experience with those two titles is overshadowed by the book I’m currently reading: The Snow Kimono by the Australian author Mark Henshaw. It’s his first novel in 25 years and was apparently  rejected 32 times before Text Publishing stepped forward. It was a smart move since Henshaw’s novel went on to win the Premier’s award.

From the first page I was enthralled.  The novel begins in Paris in 1989 when a retired police inspector receives a letter from a woman in Algiers claiming to be his daughter.  Two days later a stranger knocks on his apartment door. Tadashi Omura, former professor of law of the Imperial University of Japan, begins his story of his best friend, a brilliant but arrogant writer and the lives of three Japanese women. That summary doesn’t however do any justice to this wonderfully mesmerising tale that unfolds like a puzzle. What a shame the judges didn’t longlist this novel.

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on August 17, 2015, in Authors from...., Man Booker Prize, Sunday Salon and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Thanks for you Booker comments. I cannot get into The Illuminations – out it down halfway through thinking I may go back later. After reading your comments, maybe I won’t.
    Looking forward to checking out The Snow Kimono – thanks for the tip.

  2. Stories like Henshaw’s route to publication (I’m also thinking of Eimear McBride who won the Orange Prize for her much-rejected novel) are so inspiring. Love the sound of it being a “puzzle”. Hope you are pleasantly surprised by what remains of your BP reading!

  3. I haven’t read any of the titles in the Booker Longlist…I don’t know where to begin. But the Snow Kimono does sound interesting.

  4. It’s a mystery, isn’t, what goes on in the minds of the judges? I’ve yet to come across anyone reading long list who has declared they have read the book that should win.

  5. Love the sound of The Snow Kimono. I’m going to start reading A Little Life this week so would love to hear your thoughts! I don’t think I will be reading The Green Road as I was put off by The Gathering which I didn’t enjoy very much.

    • I need to read The Gathering for my Booker project but I don’t think I will be that enthusiastic now. A Little Life is on my Kindle ready for my holiday next week – its so long that only some concentrated reading will work for me

  6. My library doesn’t have the best record when it comes to Aussie authors but they have The Snow Kimono! Off to check it out.

  7. The Snow Kimono sounds great – I’ll look out for it! 🙂

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