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.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North wins the 2014 Man Booker Prize

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9780857980366Richard Flanagan has won the 2014 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Richard Flanagan’s affecting and harrowing story of the Burma “Death Railway” and the Australian prisoners of war who were forced to build it has trumped over 150 of the English-speaking world’s best novels to carry off the prize.

The Tasmanian-born author is the fourth Australian to win the coveted prize joining fellow Australians Thomas Kenneally (Schindler’s Ark, 1982), Peter Carey (Oscar & Lucinda, 1988 and The True History of the Kelly Gang, 2001) and D.B.C. Pierre (Vernon God Little, 2003). Flanagan was presented with the £50,000 (A$91,233) award at London’s Guildhall.

9781741666700The Narrow Road to the Deep North is Flanagan’s sixth novel, and explores the experiences of an Australian surgeon in a POW camp on the Thai-Burma railway. It has already won numerous awards, including the Indie Book of the Year Award and the Western Australian Premier’s Book Award. It was also shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award.

The novel tells the story of Dorrigo Evans, a doctor who falls in love with his uncle’s wife before the war and who survives the ordeal of the railway and Japanese mistreatment to return and be adopted by his country as a hero when he feels anything but. Flanagan’s victory has an added poignancy in that his father, who died on the day the book was finished, was himself a survivor of the railway.

The judges deliberated for some three hours before agreeing on the winner. The judging process, said AC Grayling, Chair of judges, exposes quality because the best books bear re-reading. It was, he said, “a privilege to be on the Man Booker panel in a year with such extraordinary books”.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North bears 9780701189051a dedication to prisoner san byaku san ju go, Flanagan’s father’s Japanese prison number, 335. The author himself now has a number of his own – number one.

Read our blog review here

Buy The Narrow Road To The Deep North in paperback, hardback and on audio here with FREE postage…

A joy to read. Pure reading heaven. I miss it already!

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Review – The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

This was such a joy to read. It is pure reading heaven. It is richly detailed yet highly readable and features a large cast of characters who are each flawed in all the many ways people can be. It is also an intricate mystery, a puzzle that each character (and you the reader) are trying to get to the bottom of.

The Luminaries is a monster of a book. The size of the book may put you off but don’t be! I stupidly let this sit on my shelf for months. I didn’t want to commit to a book so big. However, literally after the first page, I was so glad that this was a huge book because I just wanted to read and read. You honestly don’t want this book to end. When I did finish I instantly began to miss it and all it’s characters.

Eleanor Catton loses you in the story and, like the characters of the novel, sucks you in to the puzzle. Catton’s style and talent defy her years. Each chapter begins with a brilliantly penned synopsis, which I must admit I’d read at the end of the previous chapter like a ‘next time on The Luminaries‘. These synopses brilliant capture the mood and tone of the story and are just one of many hooks.

The story is set in the New Zealand Goldfields and involves a murder, an attempted suicide, a missing man and a pile of gold whose ownership is far from clear. The mystery unfolds from the perspective of 13 men who are each involved in the story in different ways. Each of these men piece together their stories but the truth is hiding behind miscommunication, misinterpretation and each person’s own intentions and stake in the events.

The Luminaries is totally absorbing, utterly original and a must for The Booker Prize! I am going to have an absolute nightmare putting together my top 10 of the year now (a good nightmare). Eleanor Catton is such an amazing writer (I already have The Rehearsal sitting in my ‘to read’ pile). Even without The Booker this is a book that deserves to be read, enjoyed, celebrated and read again.

Buy the book here…

Man Booker Prize longlist for 2012 announced

From: http://www.themanbookerprize.com

The longlist for the Man Booker Prize for 2012 has been announced. The 12 books were chosen by a panel of judges chaired by Sir Peter Stothard, Editor of the Times Literary Supplement. The longlisted books were selected from a total of 145 titles, 11 of which were called in by the judges

The longlist is:

Nicola Barker, The Yips (Fourth Estate)
Ned Beauman, The Teleportation Accident (Sceptre)
André Brink, Philida (Harvill Secker)
Tan Twan Eng, The Garden of Evening Mists (Myrmidon Books)
Michael Frayn, Skios (Faber & Faber)
Rachel Joyce, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (Doubleday)
Deborah Levy, Swimming Home (And Other Stories)
Hilary Mantel, Bring up the Bodies (Fourth Estate)
Alison Moore, The Lighthouse (Salt)
Will Self, Umbrella (Bloomsbury)
Jeet Thayil, Narcopolis (Faber & Faber)
Sam Thompson, Communion Town (Fourth Estate)

Judges decide on six shortlisted titles for Man Booker Prize

Peter Carey, Emma Donoghue, Damon Galgut, Howard Jacobson, Andrea Levy and Tom McCarthy are today, Tuesday 7 September, announced as the six shortlisted authors for the 2010 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. For over four decades the prize – the leading literary award in the English speaking world – has brought recognition, reward and readership to the outstanding new novels of the year. The shortlist was announced by Chair of judges, Sir Andrew Motion, at a press conference held at Man’s London headquarters.

The six books, selected from the Man Booker Prize longlist of 13, are:

  • Peter Carey Parrot and Olivier in America (Faber and Faber)
  • Emma Donoghue Room (Picador – Pan Macmillan)
  • Damon Galgut In a Strange Room (Atlantic Books – Grove Atlantic)
  • Howard Jacobson The Finkler Question (Bloomsbury)
  • Andrea Levy The Long Song (Headline Review – Headline Publishing Group)
  • Tom McCarthy C (Jonathan Cape – Random House)

Chair of judges Andrew Motion, comments:

“It’s been a great privilege and an exciting challenge for us to reduce our longlist of thirteen to this shortlist of six outstandingly good novels. In doing so, we feel sure we’ve chosen books which demonstrate a rich variety of styles and themes – while in every case providing deep individual pleasures.”

Australian author Peter Carey is one of only two authors to have won the prize twice, in 1988 for Oscar and Lucinda and in 2001 for True History of the Kelly Gang. Should he win this year, he would become the only author to have won three times. He was also shortlisted in 1985 for Illywhacker. South African author Damon Galgut has previously been shortlisted for his book The Good Doctor in 2003 and Howard Jacobson has been longlisted twice before for his novels Kalooki Nights in 2006 and Who’s Sorry Now? in 2002. Irish author Emma Donoghue is, at 40, the youngest author on the shortlist.

The winner of the 2010 Man Booker Prize for Fiction will be announced on Tuesday 12 October at a dinner at London’s Guildhall. The announcement will be broadcast on BBC News across television, radio and online.

The winner will receive a cheque for £50,000 and worldwide recognition. Last year’s winning novel, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, has now sold over half a million copies in the UK alone. Each of the six shortlisted authors, including the winner, receives £2,500 and a designer bound edition of their shortlisted book.

Chaired by Andrew Motion, former Poet Laureate, the 2010 judges are Rosie Blau, Literary Editor of the Financial Times; Deborah Bull, formerly a dancer, now Creative Director of the Royal Opera House as well as a writer and broadcaster; Tom Sutcliffe, journalist, broadcaster and author and Frances Wilson, biographer and critic.

On Sunday 10 October, two days before the winner is announced, the shortlisted authors will appear at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. It is the only public opportunity to join the 2010 shortlisted authors for readings from their books, discussion and an audience Q&A.

In addition, the Man Booker Prize has teamed up with the Victoria and Albert Museum and the London based private members’ club The Groucho Club, who will both host events with some of the shortlisted authors for their members.

Last month the prize announced exciting new digital plans for 2010. The Man Booker Prize App is now free to download from the App Store to an Apple iPhone or iPod Touch and is the UK’s first app for a literary prize. The prize has also partnered with T-Mobile via the digital book retailer GoSpoken. T-Mobile users can access content on their mobile phones and GoSpoken has provided free audio extracts from all the 13 longlisted titles which can be downloaded to subscribers’ mobiles.

Troubles by J.G. Farrell wins Lost Man Booker

Forty years after it was first published, Troubles, by J G Farrell, is today (Wednesday 19 May), announced as the winner of the Lost Man Booker Prize – a one-off prize to honour the books published in 1970, but not considered for the prize when its rules were changed.

It won by a clear majority, winning 38% of the votes by the international reading public, more than double the votes cast for any other book on the shortlist.

Troubles is the first in Farrell’s Empire Trilogy, which was followed by The Siege of Krishnapur (1973) and The Singapore Grip (1978). The Siege of Krishnapur won the Booker Prize in 1973 and was shortlisted for the Best of the Booker, a special award created to mark the 40th anniversary of the prize in 2008.  J G Farrell died in 1979.

More information about the Lost Man Booker Prize winner can be found on the Man Booker website.