Booker Prize

Book Awards Season is (finally) here!!!

Some of us get excited about our kids going back to school, and some of us get excited about pumpkin spice season.  I’m sure I’m not alone in absolutely adoring fall because it marks the arrival of book award season — that wonderful time of the year when my TBR pile strains beyond all hope of ever reading every book on it — and I love it.

Here are some of the nominated works I hope to read soon:

From the Scotiabank Giller Prize Longlist:

truckI Am a Truck by Michelle Winters

Agathe and Réjean Lapointe are about to celebrate their twentieth wedding anniversary when Réjean’s beloved Chevy Silverado is found abandoned at the side of the road—with no trace of Réjean. As her hope dwindles, Agathe falls in with her spirited coworker, Debbie, who teaches Agathe about rock and roll, and with Martin Bureau, the one man who might know the truth about Réjean’s fate. Set against the landscape of rural Acadia, I Am a Truck is a funny and moving tale about the possibilities and impossibilities of love and loyalty.*

Boy EatingThe Bone Mother by David Demchuk

Three neighbouring villages on the Ukrainian/Romanian border are the final refuge for the last of the mythical creatures of Eastern Europe. Now, on the eve of the war that may eradicate their kind—and with the ruthless Night Police descending upon their sanctuary—they tell their stories and confront their destinies.  Eerie and unsettling like the best fairy tales, these incisor-sharp portraits of ghosts, witches, sirens, and seers—and the mortals who live at their side and in their thrall—will chill your marrow and tear at your heart.*

mindsofwinterMinds of Winter by Ed O’Loughlin

Fay Morgan and Nelson Nilsson have each arrived in Inuvik, Canada, about 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Both are in search of answers about a family member: Nelson for his estranged older brother, and Fay for her vanished grandfather. Driving Fay into town from the airport on a freezing January night, Nelson reveals a folder left behind by his brother. An image catches Fay’s eye: a clock she has seen before. Soon Fay and Nelson realize that their relatives have an extraordinary and historic connection — a secret share in one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of polar expedition.*

(I’ve read only one of the longlist, Eden Robinson’s Son of a Trickster and I highly recommend it for its refreshing blend of gritty and magic realism.)

From the Man Booker Prize Shortlist:

lincolnLincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Lincoln in the Bardo  is an astonishing feat of imagination and a bold step forward from one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Formally daring, generous in spirit, deeply concerned with matters of the heart, it is a testament to fiction’s ability to speak honestly and powerfully to the things that really matter to us. Saunders has invented a thrilling new form that deploys a kaleidoscopic, theatrical panorama of voices to ask a timeless, profound question: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end?*

(I’ve read two of the remaining five on the shortlist — Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West and Emily Fridlund’s History of Wolves.  I’m partway through a third, Paul Auster’s (possibly pointless but nonetheless enjoyable) 4 3 2 1.  So far my money is on Hamid to take the prize; I’d go for the audiobook read by the author.)

From the Kirkus Prize for Young Readers Literature:

marrowthievesThe Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

Humanity has nearly destroyed its world through global warming, but now an even greater evil lurks. The indigenous people of North America are being hunted and harvested for their bone marrow, which carries the key to recovering something the rest of the population has lost: the ability to dream. In this dark world, Frenchie and his companions struggle to survive as they make their way up north to the old lands. For now, survival means staying hidden – but what they don’t know is that one of them holds the secret to defeating the marrow thieves.*

(If you haven’t already read it, please stop reading this post immediately and check out fellow finalist Angie Thomas’ gut wrenching The Hate U GiveIt’s topical, powerfully written, and well worth reading for Starr’s dad’s ideas about Harry Potter alone.)

From the National Book Award Longlist:

naomi kleinNo Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need by Naomi Klein

Remember when it all seemed to be getting better? Before Trump happened? What went wrong, and what can we do about it? Naomi Klein – scourge of brand bullies, disaster capitalists and climate liars – shows us how we got to this surreal and dangerous place, how to stop it getting worse and how, if we keep our heads, we can seize the opportunity to make it better.*

manhattan beachManhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men.

With the atmosphere of a noir thriller, Egan’s first historical novel follows Anna and Styles into a world populated by gangsters, sailors, divers, bankers, and union men. Manhattan Beach is a deft, dazzling, propulsive exploration of a transformative moment in the lives and identities of women and men, of America and the world. It is a magnificent novel by the author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, one of the great writers of our time.*

pachinkoPachinko by Min Jin Lee
Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan. So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history.*

I’d love to hear what book award nominees excite you.

Happy stacking! Happy reading!


*Blurbs provided by publishers.

The Search for 2015’s The Book

no-peekingOver the years, choosing one book to gift our adult relatives has become a bit of a thing in our household.  That’s why this weekend when my husband and I found ourselves temporarily childless, we settled in for a marathon browsing session on all our favourite book sites.  [If you are my parents or in-laws, now is a good time to stop reading and close your browser.  No peeking.]

We had thought that choosing this years Book would be a no-brainer — undermajorPatrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers is still mentioned as the best book we’ve ever given, and deWitt had a new book out this year.  What we didn’t bank on is that our Irish relatives actively sought out a copy of Undermajordomo Minor upon its publication.

Which left us a bit stumped.

littlelifeWe tossed around some big titles from 2015 — Hana Yanagihara’s A Little Life and Booker-prize winner Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings, my husband’s favourite reads of the year, were mentioned and then discarded as not being upbeat enough for holiday gift giving.

I was all for giving out Elena Ferrante’s The Story of a Lost Child, but wasn’t sure that everyone in the family had kept up with the Neopolitan novels.  (I’m purposefully deferring reading Ferrante’s latest because I really really really like delayed reading gratification.)

In the end, it was this CBC piece from January  that captured our emmaottoimaginations and decided the matter for us.

Though neither of us have read it, we’ve decided that Emma Hooper’s Etta and Otto and Russell and James is The Book for gift giving in 2015.

The novel begins with a letter from 82-year old Saskatchewan native Emma to her husband, Otto:

“I’ve gone. I’ve never seen the water, so I’ve gone there. Don’t worry, I’ve left you the truck. I can walk. I will try to remember to come back.”

The water Emma refers to is the Atlantic Ocean and she embarks on the 3232 km journey alone and on foot — the last great adventure of her life.  As Emma walks and Otto waits old memories resurface revealing a past full of hunger, war, passion and hope.


Weekly Literary Prize Roundup









Once again, Canadians represented well on the recently announced Man Booker Prize short list of six authors. Patrick deWitt (who currently lives in Oregon) was shortlisted for The Sisters Brothers, which The Guardian calls “a darkly comic wild west odyssey of two cowboy assassins,” and “the strongest wild card on the list.” The other Canadian author on the short list is Esi Edugyan, whose Half Blood Blues tells the story of a black jazz musicion in Nazi Germany.

The other four are:

(Click on the title to see the book’s description and status in our catalogue)

The six books were selected from a longlist of 13.  The winner of the 2011 Man Book Prize for fiction will be announced October 18.

And now, for an even more Canadian list, take a look at the recently announced Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist. It’s reaaaaallllly long. Like, 17 titles long. So I won’t list them all here, but be sure to stay tuned for the announcement of the winner on October 4.

Have you read any of the Booker or Giller titles? Which ones have you loved and why?