Search Results for old devils
If you’re interested in reading more fiction by Welsh authors, this list might give you some inspiration. It’s a mix of ‘classics’ and contemporary novels and short stories from across the decades and across genres. But is by no means an exhaustive list. If you think there is a key book missing, do let me know. I’d like to get the list to 100….
And just in case you were thinking I’ve made a huge mistake and left off How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn, it was a deliberate decision. Although Llewellyn’s parents were Welsh he was born in England – claims that he was born in the city of St David’s were disproved after his death.
- The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen (1890 – revised 1894)
- The Hill of Dreams, Arthur Machen (1907)
- The Battle to the Weak, Hilda Vaughan (1925)
- The Withered Root, Rhys Davies (1927)
- Rhapsody, Dorothy Edwards (1927)
- Cwmcardy by Lewis Jones (1930)
- My Mother’s House by Lily Tobias (1931)
- Glastonbury Romance, John Cowper Powys (1932)
- Selected Stories, Rhys Davies (from 1930s republished 2018)
- Country Dance, Margiad Evans (1932)
- Turf or Stone, Margiad Evans (1934)
- Black Parade, Jack Jones (1935)
- A Time to Laugh, Rhys Davies (1937)
- We Live, Lewis Jones (1939)
- Fame is the Spur, Howard Spring (1940)
- The Dark Philosophers, Gwyn Thomas (1946)
- Off to Philadelphia in the Morning by Jack Jones (1947)
- The Alone to the Alone by Gwyn Thomas (1947)
- Voices of the Children, George Ewart Evans (1947)
- In the Green Tree, Alun Lewis (1948)
- All Things Betray Thee, Gwyn Thomas (1949)
- Ride the White Stallion, William Glynne-Jones (1950)
- Farewell Innocence, William Glynne-Jones (1950)
- A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas (1952)
- Ash on a Young Man’s Sleeve by Dannie Abse (1954)
- The Valley, The City, The Village by Glyn Jones (1956)
- A Toy Epic by Emyr Humphreys (1958)
- Strike for a Kingdom, Menna Gallie (1959)
- Border Country, Raymond Williams (1960)
- One Moonless Night/Un Nos Ola Leuad, Caradog Pritchard (1961)
- Jampot Smith, Jeremy Brooks (1960)
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (1964)
- Make Room for the Jester, Stead Jones (1964)
- The Water-castle, Brenda Chamberlain (1964)
- Flame and Slag, Ron Berry (1968)
- The Elected Member Bernice Rubens (1969)
- So Long, Hector Bebb by Ron Berry (1970)
- Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl (1970)
- Dai Country, Alun Richards (1973)
- Home to an Empty House, Alun Richards (1973)
- I Sent a Letter to My Love, Bernice Rubens (1975)
- The Caves of Alienation, Stuart Evans (1977)
- A Kingdom, James Hanley (1978)
- The Volunteers, Raymond Williams (1978)
- The Key to Rebecca, Ken Follett (1980)
- On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin (1982)
- Shifts by Christopher Meredith (1985)
- Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (1986)
- The Old Devils by Kingsley Amis (1986)
- A Man’s Estate, Emyr Humphreys (1988)
- Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett (1989)
- Downriver by Iain Sinclair (1991)
- Dat’s Love and Other Stories, Leonora Brito (1991)
- The Genre of Silence by Duncan Bush (1995)
- Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters (1998)
- The Hiding Place by Trezza Azzopardi (2000)
- In and Out of the Goldfish Bowl, Rachel Tresize (2000)
- Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds (2001)
- Strange Blood, Lindsay Ashford (2006)
- Gold by Dan Rhodes (2007)
- The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies (2007)
- Resistance, Owen Sheers (2007)
- Back Home, Bethan Darwin (2009)
- The Heyday in the Blood, Geraint Goodwin (2013)
- Redemption of Galen Pikeby Carys Davies (2017)
- Submarine by Joe Dunthorne (2008)
- Congratulate the Devil, Howell Davies (2008)
- Last Bird Singing, Allan Bush (2008)
- The Little Strangerby Sarah Waters (2009)
- Blacklands by Belinda Bauer (2010)
- The Life of Rebecca Jones by Angharad Price (2012)
- A Time for Silence, ThorneMoore (2012)
- Awakening by Stevie Davies (2013)
- Significance, Jo Mazelis (2014)
- The Dig, Cynan Jones (2015)
- I Saw a Man, Owen Sheers (2015)
- Girl in the Red Coat, Kate Hamer (2015)
- The Primrose Path , Rebecca Griffiths (2016)
- Cove by Cynan Jones (2016)
- Pigeon by Alys Conran (2016)
- Anglesey Blue, Dylan Jones (2016)
- None So Blind, Alis Hawkins (2017)
- Not Thomas, Sara Gethin (2017)
- Snap, Belinda Bauer
- To Catch a Killer, Emma Kavanagh, (2019)
As a run up to the 50th anniversary of the Booker Prize, the team at the Sunday Times’ Culture magazine, asked whether the judges had always made the right decision. The article is available here.
Their conclusion? A resounding no.
Out of the 49 years when the prize has been awarded, the Culture team agreed with only 12 of the winning titles. In all remaining 37 years, they believe the Booker judges overlooked a far superior novel.
They were in agreement on:
1973: The Siege of Krishnapur by J. G Farrell, describing it as a book that is “brilliantly imagined, surprisingly funny”
1980: Rites of Passage by William Golding “complex dissection of society”
1981: Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie “Rushdie has never written a better novel … it is sumptuous, exuberant and funny.”
1988: Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey ” a wonderful feat of storytelling”
1989: Remains of the Day by Kazou Ishiguro “a subtle classic … moving and perceptive”
1996: Last Orders by Graham Swift ” a quietly authentic triumph”
1997: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy “totally engrossing”
1999: Disgrace by J. M Coetzee – Culture calls this his masterpiece
2004: The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst. The Culture team had little to say other than they thought the Booker judges were ‘spot on’ in their decision
2008: White Tiger by Arvind Adiga, the right choice among a list of strong contenders
2012: Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. Culture thought this was curiously flat and leaden but they didn’t have an alternative
2017: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders “a worthy winner’ though there were a number of other books that would have been just as deserving.
Some of these are among my favourites from the Booker Prize so I’m not going to disagree with the Culture journalists. Disgrace is uncomfortable reading but it’s a very powerful novel about post apartheid South Africa. The God of Small Things is a book full of glorious characters and Remains of the Day is just perfection.
I’m also in agreement with some of their alternative winners: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which they say should have won in 2013, is indeed a far superior book to the actual winner Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (I thought it readable but not special). Similarly Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson knocks spots off the 1985 winner The Bone People by Keri Hulme though Winterson never even made it to the shortlist. How the judges managed to choose The Old Devils by Kingsley Amis over Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is a complete mystery to me. I enjoyed the Amis but Atwood’s novel stands out as a truly imaginative venture into a dark dystopian world.
But there are also many years where the Culture team’s preference is for a book I don’t believe did deserve to win the Booker.
Colm Toibin’s novel Brooklyn instead of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall seems a very strange choice for example. Ditto David Lodge’s Changing Places is an enjoyable read but doesn’t stand out as remarkable so I wouldn’t rate it higher than the actual winner, Heat and Dust by Ruth Jhabvala.
The choice that really made my eyebrows arch was 2014 which, according to Culture, should have been won by Anthony Doerr’s All the Light we Cannot See instead of Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North. I couldn’t even finish Doerr’s novel; it was far too heavily laden with adjectives and contained many anachronistic Americans whereas Flanagan’s novel was beautifully written and engrossing from start to finish.
I suspect this is one of those exercises where you could get a different result for every group of people you asked to participate. Each of us will have our favourites as well as titles that we struggled to understand what it was even doing on the short or long list (Ben Okri’s The Famished Road falls into that category for me).
Over at Goodreads, there is a group called The Mookse and the Gripes which whose members do their own rankings and then combine the results. Their league table from this collective effort puts Remains of the Day in top position out of all the Booker winners. Midnight’s Children comes in at number 2 and then there is a surprise for the third slot – Troubles by J. G Farrell which is a book I thoroughly enjoyed though didn’t think as good as his other Booker winner The Seige of Krishnapur.
If you want to make up your own mind on whether the winners were worthy of the prestige conferred by Booker Prize success, take a look at the reviews published at Shiny New Books as their way of marking the Booker anniversary. The posts are published by decade – here is the most recent. By the time you’ll have got through all that reading, the longlist for this year’s award will be announced (actual announcement day is July 24th).
To mark the Booker anniversary this year I’m going to do two things:
- finish reading the list of winners. It’s taken me far longer than I expected to read all the winners but I’m nearly there.
- run my own ‘did it deserve the prize?’ series of posts. I’ll do these decade by decade starting next week and asking you all to join in with your own thoughts. I’ll give you a hint as to what some of my choices could be – take a look at a post I wrote last year where I selected my top 3 Booker titles of all time.
It’s time to play the Six Degrees of Separation game again. The starting book this month is The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. I know it was highly regarded when it was published but I didn’t care for it that much. However I read it so long ago I can’t remember exactly why it didn’t hit the spot, just that it didn’t. Maybe if I read it again I might have a different reaction (that often happens) but I have far too many unread titles to go down that path.
Kingsolver’s novel features a family who go to The Congo as missionaries intent on converting the local population. This was at a time before there were two countries both using the word Congo in their name. Today we have the the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the southeast and its smaller namesake, the Republic of the Congo. It’s to the latter that we go for my first link…
Alain Mabanckou’s Broken Glass is set in a seedy bar in a run down part of the country’s capital. One of its regular customers, a disgraced teacher is asked by the proprietor of the Credit Gone West bar to capture the stories of his clients. They turn out to be a misfortunate bunch all thinking they have been hard done by and wanting to set the record straight.
They’re not unlike some of the characters in Kingsley Amis’ Booker Prize winning novel The Old Devils. This lot are university pals living in a rural part of Wales and, having been regular drinkers in the past, like to spend their time in the pub. Their hostelry of choice is called The Bible and its here that they meet, often not long after breakfast, to while away the hours with gossip, updates on their various medical ailments and generally complaining about almost everything.
They might have more justification for their complaints if they were inmates of the place which is the setting for my next book in the chain: The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson. The Marshalsea is a fetid, stinking prison for debtors – once in, unless you have private means to pay for ‘luxuries’, you end up in the worst section, the “Common Side” where death is inevitable.
Fortunate then the man who can find a way out of this as does Charles Dickens’ Mr Dorrit. In Little Dorrit, her father William gets his escape ticket when it’s discovered he is the lost heir to a large fortune. Dickens uses this novel to satirise the bureaucracy of government (brought to life in the form of his fictional “Circumlocution Office”). He also takes a pop at the class system and its notions of respectability.
A desire for respectability also makes its appearance through two childhood friends in Zadie Smith’s novel NW. To leave behind her black working class upbringing, one girl changes her name, becomes a successful barrister and moves to a plush home in a desirable part of London. Her friend has less success, though she has a degree in philosophy she is still living in a council flat not far from her family home. But their past refuses to remain hidden.
Identity is the theme of my sixth and final book, one that I bought on my first trip to the Hay Festival and so caught up in the moment that I came away with an armload of books by authors completely unknown to me. Fortunately, one of the them, All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu proved to be a thought-provoking book. An African boy arrives in a mid Western USA town on a student visa. Little is known about him, only his name, his date of birth and the fact he was born somewhere in Africa. But he’s a fake, a boy who escaped from a civil war in Uganda by swapping identities with a friend who becomes a paramilitary leader.
And so we end as we began in Africa. Along the way we’ve visited a few bars, a prison and a suburb of London. As always I have included only books I have read.
Where would your chain take you? You can join in by visiting Books Are My Favourite and Best
Twenty Books of Summer hosted by Cathy at 746books is about to begin so I can’t procrastinate much longer about the books I’m putting on my list to read. This is about the third version I’ve created. I’ve gone for a mix of classics from my Classics Club project, some Booker prize winners (only nine more to read in this project), some translated fiction and a few by authors from Wales. All of these are on my ‘owned but not read’ shelves.
I know I’ll never manage to read 20 books between June 1 and September 3 (that’s 7 books a month) so I’m going for the 15 books of summer option. But since past experience tells me the minute a book goes on a list its appeal for me diminishes, I’ve listed 20 books anyway in the hope that this, plus the mixture of genres/styles I’ve chosen will give me plenty of choices to suit all moods.
Here’s my 20 Books for summer 2017 list – click on the titles to read the description on Goodreads:
Update as of August 17, 2017: 11 read. One abandoned.
1. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf Read August 2017
One that featured on my post about books that have been on my ‘to read’ list for many years. Following several comments from bloggers about how good this is, I’m persuaded it’s time to just get on and read this.
2. We Have Always Lived In the Castle by Shirley Jackson Read July 2017
I’d not heard of Shirley Jackson until I started listening to some book podcasts and kept hearing about this but since it’s considered Jackson’s masterpiece it feels like the right place to begin exploring her work.
3. Good Behaviour by Molly Keane Read August 2017
I bought this in a library sale (unfortunately my edition has a less attractive cover than this one but I couldn’t find that image). It’s the first novel Keane published after a writing break triggered by the death of her husband and was the first time she used her real name (rather than her pseudonym of M. J Farrell. I’ve read only one book by her – Devoted Ladies which I enjoyed but didn’t love. I’m hoping Good Behaviour comes up trumps because so many other readers seem to love her work.
4. Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier (Read June 2017)
Inspired by the real life Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor at which du Maurier stayed in 1930, this is a tale about a group of murderous wreckers who run ships aground, kill the sailors and steal the cargo. I was disappointed by the last du Maurier I read (My Cousin Rachel) so am hoping this proves more enjoyable.
5. The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson (part read)
This won the Booker Prize in 2010, becoming the first comic novel to win the prize since Kingsley Amis’s The Old Devils in 1986. Opinions are greatly divided on this book amongst the blogging community.
6. The Conservationist by Nadine Gordimer
Another Booker winner that remains on my list to read. I started reading it last year but found it rather dull at the time. I see that the Guardian reviewer described it as “a portrait of a dangerous man lent dangerous power by apartheid is great writing, but not brilliant reading.” Based on what I’ve read so far I’m not convinced that it really does constitute ‘great writing’ but I know I’ll at least be able to finish it (unlike the appalling The Famished Road by Ben Okri which remains the only Booker prize that I absolutely could not finish.)
7. Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth Read August 2017
Joint winner of the Booker prize along with Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient in 1992, this is likely to be a grim read because of its subject. It is set on an eighteenth century slave ship called The Liverpool Merchant which is bound for Africa to pick up its human cargo. Much of the book apparently deals with the issue of greed.
8. True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey
Peter Carey is one of the few people to win the Booker prize more than once. His other award winner — Oscar and Lucinda — is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read so far this year. The True History of the Kelly Gang, a fictionalised biography of the Australian outlaw Ned Kelly, won the prize in 2001, and also the Commonwealth Writers Prize in the same year. Since it’s written in a distinctive vernacular style, with little punctuation or grammar, it could be tough going.
9. The Vegetarian by Han Kang (read June 2017)
Han Kang’s novel features a rather ordinary South Korean housewife who decides to throw away all the meat from the freezer and announces that henceforth she is going to be a vegetarian. Her action is completely counter to South Korean culture so the book examines the reaction of her family, husband and friends. This will be only the second Korean author I’ve read and if it’s as good as my first experience – with Please Look after Mom by Shin Kyung-sook – I know I’m in for a treat.
10. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (Read June 2017)
Ruth Ozeki’s novel got my attention when it was shortlisted for the 2010 Booker prize but I never got around to reading this story which has two narrators. One is a sixteen-year-old Japanese American girl in Tokyo who keeps a diary, the other is a Japanese American writer living on an island off British Columbia who finds the diary washed up on shore some time after the 2011 tsunami that devastated Japan.
11. Twilight in Djakarta by Mochtar Lubis
I put this on my list of books to read this Spring but it fell by the wayside so I’ve resurrected it for summer. The novel was published about 50 years ago, having been smuggled out of Indonesia where the author was held under house arrest. It depicts social and political events in the capital during the run up to a national election.
12. The Kill/La Curée by Emile Zola
My plan to read all the books in the Rougon-Marquet cycle stalled last year but I’m looking to The Kill to give it a kickstart. The Kill is book number 2 in the series is set against the background of the massive redevelopment of Paris and the birth of the modern city.
13. Good Women of China: Hidden Voices by Xinran read July 2017
Xinran is a former radio journalist from China who, over a period of 10 years in the 1990s, collected stories of women who endured child child abuse, rape, gang rape, abduction and the forced parting of parents and children. The 15 stories in this collection lift the lid on Chinese society at a time when prohibitions against discussion of feelings and sexuality were relaxing.
14. Three Days and a Life by Pierre Lemaitre
I wanted something in my list that fell into the genre of thriller, for those days when I just crave a fast paced narrative. Three Days and a Life which will be published in July, fitted that description perfectly. It begins in a small provincial town of Beauval, France with the accidental killing of a young boy. More than a decade later the killer returns to the town and discovers there was a witness to his crime, a person who has the power to destroy his life. [note I corrected this synopsis based on the comment by Words and Peace that I had the gender of the victim incorrect).
15. Goodbye Tsugumi by Banana Yoshimoto (Read July 2017)
I’ve enjoyed my explorations of Japanese fiction so far but have never read Banana Yoshimoto. I know little about this book other than it’s about relationships between two cousins in a small Japanese seaside town.
16. An Elegy for Easterly by Petina Gappah
This is on my list to assuage my feelings of guilt that it was on last year’s 20 books of summer list but I only got half way through the collection of short stories.
17. What I Know I Cannot Say/ All That Lies Beneath by Dai Smith
One of the books by Welsh authors that I bought at the end of 2016, this is actually a combination of a novella and a linked section of short stories that reveal life in the South Wales Valleys during the twentieth century.
18. Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin
From another author living in Wales, Carol Lovekin’s novel was the Waterstones Wales and Welsh Independent Bookshops Book of the Month in April 2016.
19. Anglesey Blue by Dylan Jones (read June 2017)
The first in a crime fiction series featuring a Welsh Detective Inspector based on the island of Anglesy in north wales. The colour in the title has nothing to do with the colour of the sea around the island but a powerful new drug which is being ruthlessly introduced to the island community. There is trouble in this paradise with drugs, disaffected youth and brutal murders.
20. The Hogs Back Mystery by Freeman Wills Crofts Read August 2017
There are times when my brain cries out for a good yarn about crime. The Hog’s Back Mystery is on my list in case that need arises over the summer. A crime story from the past this has been given new life via the British Library Classic Crine series. It’s the fourteenth title written by Freeman Wills Crofts and begins with the disappearance of a semi-retired doctor from the North Downs in Surrey. He apparently simply walked out of the house in his slippers.
So that’s my 20 books of summer list. Whether I’ve made the ‘right’ choices is debatable – I have a feeling that I’ll come across a book on my shelves over the course of the next few months and wish I’d put it on my list.
If you want to join the fun, Cathy will put up a post on June 1 to mark the official start of the challenge and will tweet regularly using the hashtag #20booksofsummer.
A complete list of the books reviewed or featured on this blog since 2012. They are listed alphabetically by author’s surname. If you can’t find something just use the search box (on the right of your screen) or search by categories.
Click the links to go to the review.
- Achebe, Chinua Things Fall Apart
- Ackroyd, Peter The Clerkenwell Tales
- Adichie, Chimamanda The Thing Around Your Neck
- Adiga, Aravind The White Tiger
- Alaux, J.P. & Balen, N Late Harvest Havoc
- Alcott, Louisa M Little Women
- Allende, Isabel The Japanese Lover (did not finish)
- Allingham, Marjorie More Work for the Undertaker (did not finish)
- Amis, Kingsley The Old Devils
- Angelou, Maya I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
- Arthofer, M A Complete Guide to World Fiction
- Atwood, Margaret
- de Assis, Joachim Maria Mated Dom Casmurro
- Austen, Jane . Mansfield Park
- Aw, Tash Five Star Billionaire
- Bainbridge, Beryl
- de Balzac, Honore Old Goriot
- Banville, John
- The Sea
- Ancient Light
- Barbery, Muriel The Gourmet
- Barker, Nicola In the Approaches
- Barnett, Laura The Versions of Us
- Bauer, Belinda
- Bawden, Nina
- Bedford, Sybille A Favourite of the Gods
- Boileau, Pierre and Thomas Narcejac . Vertigo
- Bolaño, Roberto The Third Reich
- Brown, William Wells Clotel or, The President’s Daughter
- Buck, Pearl S The Good Earth
- Burton, Jessie The Miniaturist
- Brookner, Anita Hotel du Lac
- Brooks, Geraldine Year of Wonders
- Brown, Tracy and Hanlon, Michael When Safety Rules Don’t Add Up
- Bude, John The Cheltenham Square Murder
- Bulawayo, NoViolet We Need New Names
- Byatt, A. S . Possession
- Camilleri, Andrea
- Carpenter, Don Fridays at Enrico’s
- Carey, Peter
- Cather, Willa My Antonia
- Catton, Eleanor The Luminaries
- Gabriel, Chevalier Fear
- Christie, Agatha
- Clegg, Bill Did You Ever Have a Family
- Coetzee, J, M
- Collins, Wilkie Dead Secret
- Conde, Maryse The Tree of Life
- Conran, Alys Pigeon
- Crace, Jim Harvest
- Crofts, Freeman Wills The Hog’s Back Mystery
- Cudahy, Paul Read all About It
- Gundar-Goshen, Ayelet Waking Lions
- Davies, Carys The Redemption of Galen Pike
- Dickens, Charles
- de Rothsay, Isabelle Sarah’s Key
- Desai, Kiran The Inheritance of Loss
- Diago, Evello Rosero The Armies
- Doerr, Anthony All the Light we Cannot See
- Dunmore, Helen
- Doestoevsky, Fyodor Crime and Punishment
- Donaghue, Emma Room
- Eagleton, Terry How to Read Literature
- Eco, Umberto Numero Zero
- Eddy, Carson Beaded Jewellery Stringing Techniques
- Egan, Jennifer Look at Me
- Eliot, George Adam Bede
- Enright, Anne The Gathering
- Ewan, Pamela An Accidental Life
- Farah, Nurradin From a Crooked Rib
- Farrell, J G
- Faye, Erik Nagasaki
- Filer, Nathan The Shock of the Fall
- Fink, Sheri Five Days at Memorial
- Fitzgerald, Penelope Offshore
- Flanagan, Richard The Narrow Road to the Deep North
- Forester, C. S The Pursued
- Forrester, Andrew The Female Detective
- Forster, E.M A Room with a View
- Fraser-Sampson, Guy Miss Christie Regrets
- Frayn, Michael Skios
- Fuentes, Gabrielle Lucille The Sleeping World (Did Not Finish)
- Gale, Patrick A Place Called Winter
- Gaskell, Elizabeth
- Gaudé, Laurent Hell’s Gate
- Ghosh, Amitav The Glass Palace
- Golding, William Rites of Passage
- Grimwood, Jack Moskva
- Greene, Graham
- Griffiths, Rebecca The Primrose Path
- Grossmith, George and Wheedon The Diary of a Nobody
- Gundar-Goshen, Ayelet Waking Lions
- Gyasi, Yaa . Homegoing
- Haddad, Joumana I Killed Scheherazade
- Hamid, Mohsin
- Harris, Jane Gillespie and I
- Hartley, Sarah Mrs P’s Journey
- Hawkins, Paula The Girl on the Train
- Healey, Emma Elizabeth is Missing
- Haruf, Kent Benediction
- Hemmingway, E Farewell to Arms
- Henshaw, Mark The Snow Kimono
- Hill, Susan Woman in Black
- Hodgson, Antonia The Devil in the Marshalsea
- Hosseini, Khaled And the Mountains Echoed
- Howe, Katherine The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane (Did not Finish)
- Hulme, Keri The Bone People
- Jackson, Shirley . We Have Always Lived in the Castle
- Jansen, Leo & Hans Luijten Ever Yours: The Essential Letters of Vincent van Gogh
- James, Henry
- Jhabvala, Ruth Prawer Heat and Dust
- Jones, Cynan Cove
- Dylan Jones Anglesey Blue
- Jones, Gail A Guide to Berlin (did not finish)
- Jones, Jack Off to Philadelphia in the Morning
- Joseph, Anjali Saraswati Park
- Joyce, Rachel The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
- Juul, Pia The Murder of Halland
- Kang, Han . The Vegetarian
- Keane, Mary Beth Fever
- Keane, Molly
- Keneally, Thomas The Daughters of Mars
- Kenney, John Truth in Advertising
- Khadra, Yasmina The Dictator’s Last Night
- Knight, Bernard
- Koch, Herman The Dinner
- Krasznahorkai, László Satantango
- Kyung-Sook, Shin Please Look After Mom
- Lancaster, John Capital
- Lane, Lexi Bloggers Survival Guide
- Laurain, Antoine The President’s Hat
- Lawrence , David Young Will the Real William Shakespeare please Step Forward
- LeMaitre, Pierre Alex
- Li, Yiyun Kinder than Solitude
- Link, Charlotte The Other Child
- Lively, Penelope Moon Tiger
- Lovekin, Carol . Snow Sisters
- Mabanckou, Alain Broken Glass
- Macleod, Alison Unexploded
- Mantel, Mantel Bring up the Bodies
- Marani, Diego New Finnish Grammar
- Marías, Javier The Infatuations (did not finish)
- Martel, Yann Life of Pi
- Matas, Enrique Villa Dublinesque (did not finish)
- Matthee, Dalene Fiela’s Child
- du Maurier, Daphne
- Mawer,Simon The Girl who Fell from the Sky
- Mazur, Anne Design and Sew the Perfect Bag
- Colum McCann TransAtlantic
- McEwan, Ian Chesil Beach
- McGregor, Jon . Reservoir 13
- McGuire, Ian The North Water
- McInerney, Lisa The Glorious Heresies
- McCleen, Grace The Offering
- McCrae, Graeme Burnett His Bloody Project
- Mead, Rebecca My Life in Middlemarch
- Mengestu, Dinaw All our Names
- Menmuir, Wyl The Many
- Middleton, Stanley . Holiday
- Miller, A.D The Snowdrops
- Miller, Andrew Pure
- Miller, Andy A Year of Reading Dangerously
- Mishima, Yukio After the Banquet
- Mistry, Rohinton Such a Long Journey
- Modiano, Patrick Paris Nocturne
- Monroe, Alice Dear Life
- Moore, Alison The Lighthouse
- Moore, Thorne, Time for Silence
- Mudimbe, V.Y Between the Tides
- Mukherjee, Neel The Lives of Others
- Murakami, Huraki Norwegian Wood
- Murdoch, Iris The Sea, The Sea
- O’Brien, Anne The Shadow Queen
- O’Brien, Edna
- Obioma, Chigozie The Fishermen
- O’Farrell, John The Man Who Forgot His Wife
- O’Farrell, Maggie
- Ogawa, Yoko The Housekeeper and the Professor
- O’Hagan, Andrew The Illuminations
- Okotie, Simon Whatever Happened to Harold Absalon
- Ollikainen , Aki White Hunger
- Omotoso, Yewande The Woman Next Door
- Ondaatje, Michael
- Ørstavik, Hanne The Blue Room
- Ozeki, Ruth, A Tale for the Time Being
- Parris, S J Treachery
- Patchett, Ann Bel Canto
- Paton , Alan Cry the Beloved Country
- Penny, Louise
- Pierre, DBC Vernon God Little
- Pretorius, Michelle The Monster’s Daughter
- Pulman, Philip Northern Lights
- Pym, Barbara
- Quartey, Kwei Wife of the Gods
- Rahman, Zia Haider In the Light of What we Know (did not finish)
- Ransome, Arthur Swallows and Amazons
- Rendell , Ruth Wolf to the Slaughter
- Reeve, Phillip Mortal Engines
- Reve, Gerard The Evenings
- Roffey, Monique Archipelego
- Rogan, Charlotte The Lifeboat
- Roy, Arundhati The God of Small Things
- Rowling , J. K Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
- Rubens, Bernice The Elected Member
- Rushdie, Salman Midnight’s Children
- Donal Ryan The Spinning Heart
- Saif, Atef Abu (ed) The Book of Gaza
- Saijie, Dai Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
- Sansom C. J
- Sayers, Dorothy L Strong Poison
- Schwabe, Will End of Your Life Book Club
- Scott, Paul Staying On
- Shaffer, Mary Ann The Guernsey Literary & Potato Pie Society
- Shamshie, Kamila Burnt Shadows
- Sharma, Akhil Family Life
- Shahraz, Qaisra The Holy Woman
- Sheers, Owen
- Sigurdardotti, Yrsa The Silence of the Sea
- Škvorecký, Josef Miss Silver’s Past
- Smith, Ali How to Be Both
- Smith, Dominic The Last Painting of Sara de Vos
- Smith, Zadie NW
- Spark, Muriel The Girls of Slender Means
- Staincliffe, Cath Letters to my Daughter’s Killer
- Steinbeck, John
- Stevenson, R. L Treasure Island
- St John Mandel, Emily Station Eleven
- Stockett, Kathryn The Help
- Storey, David Saville
- Strout , Elizabeth My Name is Lucy Barton
- Swift, Graham
- Szalay, David All That Man Is
- Tan, Amy The Kitchen God’s Wife
- Taylor, Elizabeth
- Taylor, Mildred Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
- Tey, Josephine The Daughter of Time
- Thayli, Jeet Narcopolis
- Thien, Madeleine Do Not Say We Have Nothing
- Thiong’o, Ngũgĩ wa Petals of Blood
- Thierault, Denis The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Policeman
- Thirkell , Angela High Rising
- Thomas, Gwyn
- Tidhar, Lavie A Man Lies Dreaming
- Toibin, Colm Brooklyn
- Tomalin, Claire The Unequaled Self
- Trollope, Anthony
- Barchester Towers
- The Warden
- Dr Thorne
- Tulloch, Jonathan Larkinland
- Unsworth, Barry . Sacred Hunger
- Walsh, Louise Black River ( did not finish)
- Waters, Sarah The Paying Guests
- Watson, S J Before I go to Sleep
- Witwit, May & Rowlatt: Bee Talking about Austen in Baghdad
- Williams, Naill History of the Rain
- Wolfe, Christa The Search for Christa T
- Woolf, Virginia
- Wyndham, John Chocky
- Xinran Good Women of China
- Yanagihara, Hanya A Little Life
- Yamada, Taichi Strangers
- Yasmina, Khadra, The Swallows of Kabul
- Kawabata, Yasunari Snow Country
- Yamusangie, Frederick Full Circle
- Yoshimoto, Banana Goodbye Tsugumi
- Zafon, Carlos Zuin
- Zafin, Gabrielle The Storied Life of A.J.Fitkry
- Zola, Emile
- Zongo, Norbert The Parachute Drop
Yes I know it’s no longer summer but better late than never I suppose. So here is the outcome of the first reading challenge I have ever completed (drum roll and applause please….)
I knew I would never get through 20 books so took advantage of the flexible choices offered by Cathy at 746books.com and went for 10 books. When I made the list I was trying to be clever by doubling up on titles that could also count for three other projects: Women in Translation month, AllVirago/AllAugust challenge (hop over to heavenali’s blog to find out more about this) and my own Booker prize project.
I’m a bit behind on the reviews but am slowly catching up. So here’s what I accomplished – there were some hits, some also rans and some down right failures..
- This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell – Excellent Read –review posted here
- NW by Zadie Smith Read it – Dazzling in some ways but not sure I saw the point of it review posted here
- High Rising by Angela Thirkell Read – Read but not a great choice for me review posted here
- A Favourite of the Gods by Sybille Bedford Thoroughly enjoyed this – review posted here Counted this for AllAugust/All Virago
- Last Orders by Graham Swift. Read and enjoyed in parts review posted here I double counted this for my Booker project
- The Old Devils by Kingsley Amis. Read and enjoyed the humour – review not yet written. I double counted this for my Booker project
- Life & Times of Michael K by J M Coetzee. Read but review not yet written because I haven’t made up my mind what I think of it. I double counted this for my Booker project
- The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimimanda Adichie Read – enjoyed the style, left me wanting more Review posted here
- Fear and Trembling by Amelie Northomb Read – Enjoyable take on Japanese culture review posted here Double counted this for Women in Translation Month
- Tree of Life by Maryse Conde: Read it but it was a bit of a slog. Review posted here Also counted towards Women in Translation month
I had a few back up titles on my list originally so I could change my mind if needed. The back ups were:
The Female Detective by Andrew Forrester. A dud – did not finish review posted here
Frost in May by Antonia White never got around to reading this but it was a re-read anyway
An Elergy for Easterly by Petina Gappah Started to read it but ran out of time
Overall I enjoyed the experience. Because I chose the entry level I never felt overwhelmed by what I still had to read. So I’ll be back again next year assuming Cathy decides to continue the venture that is.
I don’t have a great track record with completing challenges. It seems the minute I commit to a list of books, my interest in them wanes and it begins to feel like a chore. So when Cathy at 746books.com launched the # 20booksofsummer challenge I wasn’t convinced I could achieve even the smaller target of 10 nothing ventured nothing gained eh? To make success more likely I went for a list longer than 10 titles so if one didn’t fit my mood at the time I had other options.
I’ve done way better than expected – with just over a month to go I’ve read seven and a half (the half is The Female Detective which I simply couldn’t be bothered to finish). I’m confident I’ll get to 10 by the cunning expedient of doubling up on some of these titles with two other reading projects running in August. Tree of Life by Maryse Conde is going to count for the Women in Translation project while A Favourite of the Gods by Sybille Bedford was chosen deliberately with one eye to the AllVirago/AllAugust challenge (hop over to heavenali’s blog to find out more about this) . Now if you are struggling with the arithmetic, let me help you out – this means all I need is to read one more and I’ll claim victory. If I manage to bring this off, it will be the first challenge I have ever managed to complete.
Here’s how things stand at the moment.
- This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell – Read –review posted here
- The Female Detective by Andrew Forrester. did not finish
- NW by Zadie Smith Read
- High Rising by Angela Thirkell Read – review posted here
- A Favourite of the Gods by Sybille Bedford
- Frost in May by Antonia White
- Last Orders by Graham Swift. Read
- The Old Devils by Kingsley Amis.
- Life & Times of Michael K by J M Coetzee. Read
- The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimanda Adichie Read
- An Elergy for Easterly by Petina Gappah
- Fear and Trembling by Amelie Northomb Read – review posted here
- Tree of Life by Maryse Conde
Of the ones I’ve read the stand out has been The Thing Around Your Neck, a collection of short stories by Chimanda Adichie. Maggie O’Farrell’s This Must be the Place was as enjoyable and readable as everything I’ve read by her previously. Of the two Booker prize winners, Last Orders was fine if not that memorable while Life & Times of Michael K by J M Coetzee was a beautifully written portrait of a man’s passive resistance to the civil disturbances in his native South Africa.
Onwards now to Maryse Conde I think.