What else should a Booker-prize reader take on holiday other than the very aptly named Holiday by Stanley Middleton.
The liklihood is you’ve never heard of Middleton. Neither had I until starting to read my way through all the past Booker winners. Middleton is one of those authors to have slipped into obscurity despite having written more than fourty novels. Maybe his novels are just too quiet for modern readers who want more action and drama than subtle stories about ordinary people.
They don’t come much more quiet and subtle than Holiday. Edwin Fisher, a university professor takes a spur of the moment holiday at the seaside. Its the same resort he went to year after year as a child. Recollections of those not always happy days mingle with more recent and more bitter memories of his wife from whom he has recently separated. Fisher’s sense of superiority over fellow holidaymakers at his guest house and his contempt for his father are revealed in some finely observed scenes. This is clearly going to be a novel that grows on the reader even if it doesn’t grab them by the throat.
As a complete contrast I’ve also packed Petals of Blood by the African writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and filled up my iPad with enough options to last two months rather than just the week. All I need now is a little sunshine in which to indulge in some reading.