The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma is one of my favourite reads of the year, and I was excited to hear it had been The Fishermen by Chigozie Obiomalonglisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2015, and elated when it made the shortlist. Woohoo!

Nigerian author Chigozie Obioma has crafted a magical book about brotherly love and the meaning of family in The Fishermen. Breaking the rules by fishing at the local forbidden river, four brothers come across a local madman who has a history of delivering accurate prophecies. The madman tells the eldest boy that he will die at the hands of one of his brothers.

This prophecy has a devastating effect on the brothers and ends up tearing the entire family apart. But can the madman actually see the future, or do the boys give the prophecy life with their belief? This is up to the reader to decide.

The Fishermen is at times funny, moving, heartbreaking, lyrical and magical. The narrator Ben is the youngest of the four brothers and we see the events unfold through his eyes. Thinking of Ben right now makes my chest ache with longing; that’s how much this story sticks with you. Even the cover (above, right) showing the four fishing hooks representing each of the brothers is poignant and full of meaning to me.

The Fishermen is so perfect (in my humble opinion) that it’s hard to believe it’s a debut novel for Chigozie Obioma. He’s certainly in good company amongst his fellow shortlisted writers.A Spool of Blue Thread

The other Man Booker shortlisted novels for 2015 are:
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
Satin Island by Tom McCarthy
The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota
A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

In case you’re wondering how a Nigerian author qualifies for the Man Booker, this is the second year the prize has been open to writers of any nationality, as long as they write originally in English and publish in the UK. (Previously, the prize was only open to authors from the UK & Commonwealth, Republic of Ireland and Zimbabwe).

Have you read The Fishermen or any of the others novels shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction this year? I’ll definitely be crossing my fingers Chigozie Obioma walks away with the prize this year. Either way, he’s definitely an author to watch out for in the future.

Discovering Deborah Levy

Deborah LevyHave you ever found an author that you just want to recommend to everyone you meet? The type of author that you just want to read over and over again. I found this author in 2012 and I am slowly working through her backlist. The first book I read of hers I loved so much that as soon as I finished it, I turned back to page one and read it again. It is a little sad that she doesn’t get the recognition she deserves. No doubt, you have read the title of this post and skimmed the pictures, so you know I am talking about Deborah Levy.

Her book Swimming Home was shortlisted for the Man Booker in 2012 and in my opinion was more deserving than Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (I know I am bitter).  Levy has this unique style that I cannot really explain; it is razor sharp, witty, wry and intelligent, but it also has a dark-side. If this isn’t enough, her proses are just stunning, lyrical, poetic and bold. That is enough of playing the adjective game; I can’t give you all a copy of one of Deborah Levy’s books but maybe I can convince you to try one of the following.

swimming homeI recommend everyone start with Swimming Home, not just because it is where I started or because of the Man Booker shortlisting but because it is a pretty safe starting point. Set in a summer villa on the French Riviera, a group of tourists arrive to find a body in the swimming pool. At first they thought she was dead but she is very much alive. This self-proclaimed botanist, Kitty Finch walks out of the pool and injects herself into their holiday. A psychological story of love, this contemporary novel is drenched in Freudian ideas of both desire and dread.

black vodkaIf short stories are more your style, I recommend Black Vodka, a collection of ten stories about relationships, sadness, love, being alone and bitterness. This collection really brings out Levy’s views on philosophical ideas, especially when it comes to existentialism. While she was born in South Africa and now resides in England; the stories in Black Vodka, like most of her books, have a very strong European feel to them.

The UnlovedThanks to the gaining momentum for the Man Booker nomination, a lot of Deborah Levy’s books are being republished. Her 1995 novel The Unloved was edited and republished earlier this year. A group of self-indulgent European tourists decide to celebrate Christmas in a remote French chateau. However during their stay one of them is brutally murdered and the unloved child Tatiana knows who did it. The subsequent investigation into this death turns more into an examination of love, desire and rage. This is a shocking and exciting novel, full of characters you can’t help but suspect of murder.

If that isn’t enough to get you started she also has a collection of essays on the writing life called Things I Don’t Want to Know. Also the beautiful new hardcover edition of her poetry called An Amorous Discourse in the Suburbs of Hell was released this month. I am so glad she has more books for me to discover and enjoy and I hope she has many more in the future. Deborah Levy is such an underrated author in my opinion but I hope many people out there are willing to give her a go.