Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

Breaking News: Man Booker Prize Shortlist Announced

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Yesterday’s breaking news is still pretty fresh and it’s VERY savory: 7 novels have been voted off the island and 6 remain on the Man Booker Prize shortlist! Here they are, in order of most to least interesting to Bacon:

History of Wolves, by Emily Fridlund

From the Man Booker website:

Linda, age 14, lives on a dying commune on the edge of a lake in the Midwest of America. She and her parents are the last remaining inhabitants, the others having long since left amid bitter acrimony. She has grown up isolated both by geography and her understanding of the world, and is an outsider at school, regarded as a freak.

One day she notices the arrival of a young family in a cabin on the opposite side of the lake. She starts to befriend them, first their four-year-old son Paul, and then his young mother Patra, who is also lonely and isolated. For the first time she feels a sense of belonging that has been missing from her life.

Leo, the father, is a university professor and an enigmatic figure, perpetually absent. When he returns home, Linda is shunned by the family unit. Desperate to be accepted again, she struggles to resume her place in their home and fails to see the terrible warning signals, which have such devastating consequences.

Why I want to read this: I love a debut novel (the author’s first bite of the apple – juicy, Garden of Eden style). I’m interested in wolves. I’m buying this at my local bookstore immediately.

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Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders

From the Man Booker website:

On 22 February 1862, two days after his death, Willie Lincoln is laid to rest in a marble crypt in a Georgetown cemetery. That very night, shattered by grief, his father Abraham arrives at the cemetery, alone, under cover of darkness…

Unfolding in the graveyard over a single night, narrated by a dazzling chorus of voices, Lincoln in the Bardo is a thrilling exploration of death, grief and the deeper meaning and possibilities of life.

Why I want to read this:  I started this novel some time ago and was intrigued. I’m sorry I put it down. It’s back on my nightstand. 

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Elmet, by Fiona Mozley

From the Man Booker website:

Daniel is heading north. He is looking for someone. The simplicity of his early life with Daddy and Cathy has turned sour and fearful. They lived apart in the house that Daddy built for them with his bare hands. They foraged and hunted. When they were younger, Daniel and Cathy had gone to school. But they were not like the other children then, and they were even less like them now. Sometimes Daddy disappeared, and would return with a rage in his eyes. But when he was at home he was at peace. He told them that the little copse in Elmet was theirs alone. But that wasn’t true. Local men, greedy and watchful, began to circle like vultures. All the while, the terrible violence in Daddy grew.

Elmet is a lyrical commentary on contemporary English society and one family’s precarious place in it, as well as an exploration of how deep the bond between father and child can go.

Why I want to read this: Because of The Guardian review: “Elmet belongs to a strain of northern British gothic that mirrors the variety that has long held sway in the southern states of the US. The gothic has always returned to us what we repress, whether that be monks hiding in priest holes or bodies buried in swamps. Those who have been socio-economically repressed – fighting men, former squaddies, Travellers – resurge in this rich, fabular novel, as does something more radical and doomed: a pre-capitalist morality. The embedding of such myths in the language and landscape of Hughes, dragged down from the moorland and into the woods, makes for a scarred, black gem.”

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Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid

If you’re breathing, you’ve heard about this book. Here’s a link to the Man Booker description.

My thoughts: I don’t regret the time spent reading Exit West, but I far preferred Hamid’s brilliant and moving How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. Seriously, check that one out.

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Autumn, by Ali Smith

Here’s a link to the Man Booker description.

Why I probably won’t read this: I’ve tried Ali Smith, multiple times. She’s too smart for me. Like A.S. Byatt at her least accessible.

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4321, by Paul Auster

Here’s a link to the Man Booker description.

Why I probably won’t read this: At 880 pages – Just. Too. Long. Am I wrong? I’d love to hear from anyone who’s read it!

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Top image of shortlist books from Man Booker website.

6 Comments

  1. Reading the Auster now. It is long, but who cares? You’ve got to be reading something right? Whether it’s 10 good books or one fabulous breathtaking one, the time spent is worth it! Though I’m less than halfway in, I can vouch for this. The writing is beautiful and the storytelling amazing. Loving every minute spent.

  2. Loved seeing this email first thing this morning-I have had a summer dry spell and barely read anything beyond a People magazine- the opposite of my usual summer habits! After reading the post, I’m most intrigued by YOUR recommendation of How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. THAT”S what I’m starting with for fall :-))

  3. My money is on Moshin Hamid

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