BookerTalk was born on impulse ten years ago.
It started as a way to document my project to read all the Booker Prize winners starting from 1969. That was the topic of the first post I published on February 14, 2012.
It wasn’t the best of starts. I had no idea how to run a blog, how to write interesting blog posts or how to use WordPress let alone how to engage with other bloggers. Clearly I didn’t even understand that blogging requires constant effort because that was the only post I did that month. It took six months to get into more of a regular pattern of blogging and commenting.
What kept me going was the generosity of other bloggers who not only spent time to read my content, but gave helpful suggestions and advice. Without them I would probably have stopped long ago. I wish I could thank them here, but sadly they all decided to close their own blogs.
So 1418 posts and 1.2million words later I’m still here.
Looking back over those years I cringe at the quality of some of my earliest efforts. But I’m also chuffed to find some blog posts from years ago are still getting visitors and appear in my list of 10 most popular posts.
10 Most Popular Posts
These are the ten posts that have had the most views over the last ten years, shown in descending order.
Some of the titles I suspect are on a school or university curriculum somewhere. I know that’s the case with the Machado de AssisI and maybe also the Ngugi wa Thiong’o. It’s also about the only explanation I can think of for the presence of The Holy Woman on the list.
A few things about this list were surprising. The only post that isn’t a book review is a piece I wrote in 2019 about the strange ways in which some authors met their deaths. Obviously it has a curiosity value.
In the book reviews, just one of the featured books won the Booker Prize (Staying On). Three Things About Elsie and Dissolution stand out as the most ‘contemporary’ books on the list: published within the 10 years BookerTalk has been in existence. The rest of the list is a mix of novels in translation and “modern classics.”
Petals of Blood by Ngugi wa Thiong’o
This Kenyan author has long been touted as a potential winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. His novel is savage indictment of the political and government regime in his native country after it gained independence.
Fear and Trembling by Amélie Nothomb
Nothomb is Belgian by origin but lived for many years in Japan which is the setting for this novel about the difficulties experienced by a young woman in a male dominated corporate world.
Dom Casmurro by Machado de Assis – Review
A strange, playful tale from a South American author whose profile doesn’t match the big names of Gabriel García Márquez or Isabel Allende.
The Holy Woman by Qaisra Shahraz
Desire for personal freedom clashes with ancient customs and beliefs in this novel from Pakistan. Unfortunately the execution lets it down with weak characterisation and clunky narration.
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
It was hard to miss this novel when it was published in 2018. Cannon’s crime/mystery novel captures so well the forced jollity of residential homes for elderly people.
Review: Dissolution by C J Sansom
The first book in a series of historical crime fiction novels featuring an unusual “detective” in the form of the hunchback lawyer Shardlake.
The Human Factor by Graham Greene: Loyalty And Betrayal
Greene’s novel in set in the world of spies and secrets, focusing on a very ordinary, almost nondescript man whose secret life is threatened with exposure.
Bizarre And Mysterious Deaths of 10 Famous Authors
Was Albert Camus killed by Soviet agents? Why was the inquest report on Emile Zola’s death never made public? Was Charles Dickens at home when he died or at the home of his mistress? All questions discussed in this post.
Staying On by Paul Scott: Delightful End to Raj Quartet
The Booker Prize winner in 1977, Scott’s novel picks up the threads from his magnificent Raj Quartet, showing what happens to some Brits who decide to stay on in India after independence.
Old Goriot by Honoré de Balzac
My first Balzac novel turned out to be a biting novel that portrays France as a corrupt, ruthless society that feeds on ambition, money and status.
I wonder how this list will look in 10 years time. Or maybe the bigger question is: will I still be here ten years from now? Maybe all those forecasts of the death of blogging will prove correct. I hope not because the other social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram don’t have the same appeal for me.
If I am still here it will be because of all the lovely people who visit the blog and leave comments. Bloggers and readers really are the most lovely people imaginable. It’s thanks to all of you that I’ve encountered so many authors I’d never heard of previously — some of whom have gone on to become favourites — and discovered the world of translated fiction.
Thanks to you all for sticking around. I hope you’ll still be here in 2032.