Tag Archives: Anne Enright

The Orange Prize Shortlist 2012?

I do like the Orange Prize, I really do. Last year I admit I did take that love a little bit too far by reading the whole long list. I haven’t done the same this year though, even though I was tempted a little for a small moment, you see last year was great but I did get a bit ‘oranged out’ at one point.  The shortlist is announced tomorrow morning and as I do it every  year, whether I have read the lot or not I am hazarding a guess at the final six which I would like to see make the cut…

Long term readers of the blog will know that I think ‘Gillespie and I’ by Jane Harris is one of the best reads I have had the joy of spending time with (more than once) so there is no surprise that I have that on my six without question. Ali Smith’s ‘There But For The…’ is a wonderful example of an author writing a great story which not only has deceptively much to say it also plays with words in a wonderful way. Whilst I haven’t reviewed it yet, I do think that Madeline Miller’s ‘The Song of Achilles’  is, please excuse the language, bloody brilliant, more on that very soon.

  

Out of the ones that I haven’t read I have picked three that I would really rather love to read (and have actually dipped into so I am not just going by blurbs and being totally 100% lazy ok). The first of those is ‘The Blue Book’ by A.L. Kennedy. This book looks like it is going to be a real treat as it plays games with you from the start, not only is the book not actually blue, the page numbers don’t always follow the natural numerical pattern and the book almost tells you itself in the first few paragraphs that it may beguile you and take you unawares. I have a feeling both Anne Enright’s ‘The Forgotten Waltz’ and Anne Patchett’s ‘State of Wonder’ will possibly make it onto the list, but I don’t fancy either of these so I wouldn’t mind seeing Esi Edugyan’s ‘Half Blood Blues’ (which is one of The Readers Summer Book Club titles) and Amy Waldman’s ‘The Submission’ on the list as I simply really want to read them.

  

I am sure I will be completely wrong, but expect some serious sulking if Jane Harris and Madeline Miller don’t make it ha, ha, ha. This year I think I might just read the short list whatever they are… we will see. What do you think will make it from the long list? Which of them have you read and loved?

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The Orange Prize Longlist 2012… My Thoughts

Note: There will be a lot of very good reportage on this today in all the broadsheets; I decided to do a layman’s reaction post. You can also see my guessing post here.

So here they are the twenty books that make up this year’s Orange Prize longlist. I was actually up until midnight and so I saw the list appear on The Guardian website. I then decided that if I wrote anything at that time it probably wouldn’t make sense and so I have waited. Anyway, less about my thoughts, for now, here is the list of twenty books that have made the cut…

  • Island of Wings by Karin Altenberg (Quercus) – Swedish; 1st Novel
  • On the Floor by Aifric Campbell (Serpent’s Tail) – Irish; 3rd Novel
  • The Grief of Others by Leah Hager Cohen (The Clerkenwell Press) – American; 4th Novel
  • The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue (Picador) – Irish; 7th Novel
  • Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan (Serpent’s Tail) – Canadian; 2nd Novel*
  • The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright (Jonathan Cape) – Irish; 5th Novel
  • The Flying Man by Roopa Farooki (Headline Review) – British; 5th Novel
  • Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon (Quercus) – American; 4th Novel
  • Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding (Bloomsbury) – British; 3rd Novel
  • The Translation of the Bones by Francesca Kay (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) – British; 2nd Novel
  • The Blue Book by A.L. Kennedy (Jonathan Cape) – British; 6th Novel*
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Harvill Secker) – American; 1st Novel*
  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Bloomsbury) – American; 1st Novel
  • Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick (Atlantic Books) – American; 7th Novel
  • State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (Bloomsbury) – American; 6th Novel*
  • The Pink Hotel by Anna Stothard (Alma Books) – British; 2nd Novel
  • Tides of War by Stella Tillyard (Chatto & Windus) – British; 1st Novel
  • The Submission by Amy Waldman (William Heinemann) – American; 1st Novel*

The first two initial thoughts, and I am being very honest here, were how many of them have I read (those are in italics with a link if I finished and reviewed them) followed by how many of them did I guess correctly (those six have a * next to them). My next thought was to jump for joy for both Jane Harris and Ali Smith. At the moment they are my favourites to win, possibly in a tie, ha.

My next thought, and if anyone says they don’t do this then they are big liars, was to think ‘are the judges mad, what about including…’ We all do this with a prize and it is completely natural, if you are passionate about certain books, like ‘The Snow Child’ or ‘The Proof Of Love’ (the books I am the most bemused didn’t make the longlist at all), then you are going to be slightly disheartened that those five judges didn’t put them in and then leads you to feeling a bit non-plussed that they included books you tried but didn’t finish. But let’s not judge the judges shall we.

In this list both Anne Enright and Ann Patchett I tried and failed with, though I know they both have some real fans, some of whom I know and respect, I just don’t quite get them myself. I did say yesterday that I thought they might appear on the list however. Then we have Esi Edugyan who I tried to read for the Man Booker shenanigans last year and didn’t finish but meant to, so now might. Then there is Emma Donoghue which I tried, because it sounded deliciously Victorian (and will actually be in a post next week of ‘unreviews’ as I couldn’t finish it) and which I didn’t think was eligible as I thought it was a re-issued book and not a new one. Where I invented this idea from I have absolutely no idea, but it seems I did.

I then dust the slight mini-sulk off and look at all those I didn’t guess yesterday (the small inner glow about the ones I did helps) and see what I think. There’s a few names I know like Madeline Miller (who I lent a copy to my mother as she is a classicist knowing I would realistically never see it again but did actually quite want it back), Georgina Harding (whose novel ‘The Spy Game’ I really wanted to read and yet didn’t), Roopa Farooki (who in my head has been on this list every year for about the last ten years even though that’s not possible as it’s her fifth novel, this to me says I should read her, she must be good), Francesca Kay and Erin Morgensten (if you haven’t heard about this book where on earth have you been?).

The excitement builds the most with the books I know nothing about. So I open up one of two possible book shopping based websites and look them up, deciding if they are ones I want to read. These were my instant thoughts; don’t judge me on them too much…

  • Karin Altenberg – described as ‘captures a world that disappears in the act of description, and the love, so inescapable and elusive, of the outsiders who try to tame it’ I’m sorry what does that actually mean? Turns out it means a book with boats and sailing in, oh dear, and life on a new settlement in the Hebrides. Bit religious looking. Not sure is my cup of tea.
  • Aifric Campbell – I was tempted by her spooky sounding ‘The Loss Adjustor’ a while back so thought this might be my cup of tea, but it’s about banking. Very current I admit, but maybe not very me.
  • Jaimy Gordon – a book about horses. If you know me well and haven’t fallen upon this post by googling ‘orange prize longlist 2012’ (though hello and welcome if you have, pull up a chair and make a cuppa) books set on boats or books about horses aren’t really me. Could this change this, I don’t know.
  • Cynthia Ozick – I am very excited about this one, I have looked at it in Waterstones on several occasions, the cover had me at hello, and the premise appeals, a failed marriage, leaving 1950’s New York for Paris. Yes, I would like to read this one.
  • Anna Stothard – sounds a bit ‘estranged mother and daughter, mother dies, daughter finds out about the mother she never really knew when on a road trip routing though her mother’s letters from the past’ could be brilliant, could not be.
  • Stella Tillyard – interestingly though the title ‘Tides of War’ put me off, I quite like the sound of a book set in the Regency period and the Spanish Peninsular War because I know very little about that period. A maybe book.

All in all if the Orange Prize Longlist 2012 had a ‘like’ button I would press it. Bear in mind the fact I think pressing a ‘like’ button is one of the laziest ways of complimenting anyone (I could start a rant on this but I won’t, maybe another day) so I shall comment in a little more detail. There are the books I read and loved which I will now be backing all the way and am chuffed to bits made the list. Then there are A.L. Kennedy, Cynthia Ozick, Leah Hager Cohen and Amy Waldman who I come away wanting to read more than I did before, oh and Esi Edugyan and Erin Morgensten are sort of in that group but I have heard so much, it’s almost too much, about both.

Will I be reading the longlist this year? No, but I will be intrigued to see the shortlist next month and if it includes my two favourites then I might just read the lot as I will know the judging panel (of whom apparently only Joanna Trollope read all 143 submissions) are on a wave length with me and my reading tastes. At the moment though, despite some books I loved being on the list there are a couple I have tried and not finished and so I am left pondering the ones I knew nothing about until today; the premises don’t quite do anything for me, but if I see them in a bookshop I might give them a test chapter or two and see how I feel then.

What about your thoughts?  Oh, and Happy International Women’s Day to all my female readers.

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Guessing The Man Booker Longlist 2011

It is the big day in publishing when the Man Booker Longlist is announced and I have to say I have been getting rather excited about it as it’s got nearer, which was not what I was expecting after the winner was announced. I seemed to have gotten into a state of mind that actually the Man Booker was a little out of touch. Why that is I can’t say now. Anyway, it’s great to play the guessing game before a longlist is announced and rather than just give you a list of the books I thought I would share with you a piece I did on the Man Booker Longlist 2011 for We Love This Book, let me know what you think of my choices and reasons…

“Predicting the Man Booker longlist is really an impossible mission—I mean, apart from the judges and a very select group, who really knows what on earth gets submitted and which novels make the grade? And yet we all love to do it. It’s like having a harmless little flutter without needing to spend any money placing a bet.

I am unusually excited about this year’s prize. I don’t know if it’s the panel (which includes ex-MI5 Stella Rimmington and the delightfully arch author Susan Hill) or if it’s because I have found the last year very exciting for fiction. Particularly in terms of d ébut authors and female writing—the Orange shortlist was stunning this year, and I am hoping for the same with the Booker and several other prizes as the year unfolds.

Already I have a feeling there is going to be a shock with the longlist. As with last year’s McEwan and Amis no shows, I think we could have the same with Adiga, Ghosh, Enright and Hollinghurst this year. All of these have fallen through my letterbox, all have been tried, and yet none really held me. I have only so far finished one of them, The Stranger’s Child, which, whilst being some of the most beautiful prose I have read all year, didn’t half sag in the middle. That, of course, is just my personal opinion. I can only base my guesses on the criteria that I would have should I be a judge on this year’s panel.

I would want books that are simply “great books”, beautifully written and addictively readable with characters who walk off the page, books that deal with subject matters, periods of time, events or places I know nothing about and books that touch me emotionally and “get me” in some way. With that in mind, these are the 13 eligible books (not all have been featured on my blog yet) that I would fight for…

On Canaan’s Side – Sebastian Barry
Jamrach’s Menagerie – Carol Birch
Everything Beautiful Began After – Simon Van Booy
 The Proof of Love – Catherine Hall
Gillespie and I – Jane Harris
King of the Badgers – Philip Hensher
Anatomy of a Disappearance – Hisham Matar
Ours are the Streets – Sunjeev Sahota
There but for the – Ali Smith
The Dubious Salvation of Jack V – Jaques Strauss
Go To Sleep – Helen Walsh
Bed – David Whitehouse
Annabel – Kathleen Winter

Those are, of course, in alphabetical order of authors’ surnames, so you can’t see which are my very favourites just yet. I haven’t managed to get my hands on a few of the “bigger” names I’d have liked to—in particular A L Kennedy and Michael Ondaatje (who might miss out with the previous winner curse that I think might be coming)—nor have I yet read some of the lesser-known books like The Sentamentalists, Bernard Beckett’s August or Gail Jones’ Five Bells—I am rather keen to spend a few hours with the latter three in particular. I also keep mulling over Then by Julie Myerson, which I am about to start. You see, this year is a really strong year—I could never possibly get it right.

In fact I would say I would be more than happy if I was completely wrong and the list was filled with what Susan Hill (on the Man Booker forum) has called “some splendid out of the way novels”. Whilst it would be quite something to have guessed the unguessable, I think in honesty I would rather see a list of 12 or 13 books I hadn’t heard of that really excite me. Even if it would add a whole heap of new reading material to my never-ending list.”

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Current Top 5 TBR’s

This weeks Booking Through Thursday is all about your TBR. The question is “Do you keep all your unread books together, like books in a waiting room? Or are they scattered throughout your shelves, mingling like party-goers waiting for the host to come along?” Now if you go to my post from last weeks BTT post then you will see the state of my Great Unread and that is pretty much how I have my TBR in general. Though there is a system to it, as you will see, which are on one side…

  • Biographies & Autobiographies
  • Big Books
  • Short Books

And the other side…

  • Man Booker Winners Unread
  • Latest Publishers Paperbacks
  • Latest Publishers Hardbacks

It does look a little bit like the book section of a charity shop from those pictures which has made me giggle. The rest of my 900+ TBR are all in boxes hidden away. None of my TBR ever ends up on any of my shelves in the lounge, I only have the books that I actually have read, finished and liked. I am actually going to be routing through my ‘already read’ shelves and slim lining them over the weekend.

What has just added a new joy to my life is bedside cabinets. I now have space, finally, too put the books I intend to read next (I say intend as something on one of the many shelves can call me at any moment instead) these are:

  • Call Me By Your Name – Andre Aciman ( which I am reading now)
  • Ulysses – James Joyce (which I am very slowly reading now)
  • The Gathering – Anne Enright
  • Ask Alice – D. J. Taylor
  • The Glassblowers – Daphne Du Maurier

There will be more on Ulysses a little later on today as its Camp One with Team Ulysses over at Dovegreyreader. Back to the TBR though, how is yours arranged and what are your top 5 next TBR books?

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Taking Away With Me…

So I am off ‘oop north’ for a weekend and this of course means that myself and The Converted One have got some quite long train journeys each way and of course this means that we need something to read. Yes, you have noticed it is we now not me. Book sharing thats a whole can of worms that I have opened for myself unwittingly… does anyone else do this? I am finding it hard to share after such a long time of having all of my books to myself. I don’t think that The Converted One has started planning a blog yet though. Anyway the books that ‘we’ have decided to take are…

Only taking the three... quite restrained for me!

Only taking the three... quite restrained for me!

The Gathering – Anne EnrightThe nine surviving children of the Hegarty clan gather in Dublin for the wake of their wayward brother Liam. It wasn’t the drink that killed him – although that certainly helped – it was what happened to him as a boy in his grandmother’s house, in the winter of 1968. “The Gathering” is a novel about love and disappointment, about thwarted lust and limitless desire, and how our fate is written in the body, not in the stars.” After receiving this in the new series of Man Booker winners by Vintage I have been told several times that this is one of the harder Man Booker Winners, so I am going to give this challenge a go.

Ask Alice – D. J. TaylorIn 1904, a pretty young woman travels apprehensively across the American prairies; on a whim she makes a bold decision, grabbing her future with both hands. A lonely little boy, growing up a world away between-stairs in an Edwardian country house, has his future decided for him by impending war and an old woman who parcels him off to her eccentric brother in the flatlands of Norfolk. Later, in the brightly coloured world of late 1920s London high life, Alice Keach is queen among society hostesses. Behind her lie a marriage to a wealthy landowner, and a career as a celebrated actress. But Alice has a secret, whose roots run five thousand miles away to that Kansas train-ride, and a chain of connection with the potential to blow her comfortable existence apart. A half-hearted blackmailer making his way across the Atlantic; a watchful teenage boy observing the birth of a lucrative new colour in a Norfolk pigpen; a bright young woman coming to terms with an unsatisfactory marriage; a country house party that ends in tragedy; and, a sensational murder trial – all these are gathered up in the story of Alice’s rise and fall. Ranging from the Dakota badlands to the drawing rooms of Mayfair, and from the Norfolk back lanes to the casting couches of the Edwardian theatre, “Ask Alice” is a remarkable novel that confirms D.J. Taylor as a novelist of scope, imagination and great writing.” Another book that has been on my TBR for quite a while and I have been meaning to read. I am also going to stay with my Aunty Alice so I thought this was quite apt and a possible conversational piece.

Call Me By Your Name – Andre AcimanCall Me By Your Name” is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blooms between seventeen-year-old Elio and his father’s house guest Oliver during a restless summer on the Italian Riviera. Unrelenting currents of obsession and fear, fascination and desire threaten to overwhelm the lovers who at first feign indifference to the charge between them. What grows from the depths of their souls is a romance of scarcely six weeks’ duration, and an experience that marks them for a lifetime. For what the two discover on the Riviera and during a sultry evening in Rome is the one thing they both already fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy.The psychological manoeuvres that accompany attraction have seldom been more shrewdly captured than in Andre Aciman’s frank and unsentimental elegy to human passion. “Call Me By Your Name” is clear-eyed, bare-knuckled and ultimately unforgettable.” Sounds quite different and Atlantic Books sent me this quite a while ago and when sorting my shelving out I rediscovered it and felt a bit ashamed I have left this for so long and wanted to read it too.

So let’s see how I get on with them, mind you we are going up to look after two ten month old twin girls so reading might not be on the best weekend for reading, we shall see. What reading do you have planned this weekend?

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The Great Unread

Todays blog was planned after finally finishing book sorting in the new flat, but looking at Booking Through Thursday  today its a coincidence that I was going to do a blog on my ‘unread’ books now that their move was all done and dusted by 1am this morning, now its just the rest of the flat to shift.

The Booking Through Thursday Question was ‘Give me the list or take a picture of all the books you have stacked on your bedside table, hidden under the bed or standing in your shelf – the books you have not read, but keep meaning to. The books that begin to weigh on your mind. The books that make you cover your ears in conversation and say, ‘No! Don’t give me another book to read! I can’t finish the ones I have!’ I will say that I never ever think ‘don’t give me another book’ though… ever! Also i couldnt do a  list as I think a list of 900+ books could be quite boring! So I thought I would do it in pictures.

Now you guys were fantastic when I asked questions about how to sort my new shelves. However first of all I had to get the boxes sorted which preety much had every book I owned in and had no real structure other than box one was the books I most wanted to read etc. Now as you’ll see below there were a lot of boxes!

 

These six boxes now contain books I have been given by friends and family, or bought from second hand shops. Once these were all done and dusted it was time for the sorting of the shelves. Not the shelves in the lounge which are only for books that I have actually read, these are my new in built shelves in massive new bedroom, it has a bed and a sofa in it, most pleased. But how to do organise incoming books and my TBR? Well you all gave me your hints and tips and in the end I decided to do it like this…

First Set of Shelves

Biographies on the top shelf, big tomes of books on the next shelves, new, old and inbetween. The final bottom shelve is very thin quick and easy reads again new old and inbetween. This is so dependent on mood or if I am up for a challenge I can just grab one of those at random… it makes sense to me! Then we have on the opposite in built shelves… 

More shelves

We have two piles of ‘Man Booker Winners I Haven’t Read’, followed by my ‘Daphne Du Maurier’ TBR and then a small cluster of books that might be ‘unfinished’ but I wouldnt like to comment or linger on those. Below that we have all the latest incoming paperbacks from publishers and under that the latest hardbacks from publishers. It appears that I have quite a lot of reading to do, but I would never say ‘oh no more books for me thank you’. If I did I wouldn’t have received this pile of delights from Vintage

Vintage Man Bookers

I was tempted to give these books thier own shelf as in the picture above as they look stunning. Vintage have decided to re-issue nine of their published Man Booker winners with delightful new covers and in smaller paperbacks which make them easier for commuters like Savidge Reads, though that might not have been the original idea behind the resizing. The books are, in case the picture isnt great…

  • Possession – A. S. Byatt
  • The Gathering – Anne Enright
  • The Famished Road – Ben Okri
  • Amsterdam – Ian McEwan
  • The Sea, The Sea – Iris Murdoch
  • Disgrace – J. M. Coetzee
  • How Late It Was, How Late – James Kelman
  • Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha – Roddy Doyle
  • Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

I have already read Amsterdam and Midnights Children as I had made a pact with Jackie at Farmlanebooks that we would try and read all the winners over a certain period of time, so this series has been a very welcome new addition to the shelves, and almost a housewarming gift!

What about all of you? Whats your TBR like, where can I have a good old nosey! Which pile of my TBR should I pick a book from next, what reads do you have lined up in your ‘great unread’?

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