Man Booker Prize

Booker Prize Shortlist

I have a confession to make: I’d only read two of the Man Booker Prize longlist when the shortlist was announced.  Of the two (Eileen and My Name is Lucy Barton), I strongly preferred Eileena confidently written character study of an extremely unlikable young woman.  Now that it’s been shortlisted, I’m very interested to see how it fares against the other shortlisted titles.  They are:

The SelloutThe Sellout by Paul Beatty (available in book and ebook)

After his father’s death a young black man seeks to reinstate slavery in the inconsequential town of Dickens, California.  It’s a satirical look at race relations in the US.

Hot MilkHot Milk by Deborah Levy (available in book)

Levy’s previous novel Swimming Home was awash in beautiful language.  I’m very much looking forward to Hot Milk, the story of a claustrophobic mother-daughter relationship set in Spain.

His Bloody ProjectHis Bloody Project by Graeme Mcrae Burnett (available in ebook)

A historical literary thriller from a small publishing house?  Yes, please.  Already a winner for beating out some huge names to land a spot on the shortlist, Burnett’s His Bloody Project promises to keep you enthralled to the last page.

All That Man IsAll That Man Is by David Szalay (available in book and ebook)

It’s wonderful that both Canadian longlisters made the shortlist.  What does manhood look like at the different stages of life?  Manhood is the central preoccupation of this collection of interconnected short stories.

Do Not Say We Have NothingDo Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien (available in book and ebook)

This is Thien’s year.  Her novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing has also been longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.  It’s a sprawling family saga set in present-day Vancouver and China before, during, and after the Tiananmen Square protests.

Get your holds in now!  The winner will be announced on October 25.





Man Booker Prize Longlist 2016

As fun as it was to predict the longlist for this year’s Man Booker Prize, I did an utterly terrible job of it.  Zero of my thirteen predictions made the actual longlist (which fills me with optimism that I’ll be able to do better next year).  Without further ado, here are the nominees:

From Canada

thienI couldn’t be more excited to see Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien on the longlist.  It’s an intergenerational saga that stretches from present day Vancouver back to 1940s China.  The Globe and Mail raves that this novel “will cement Madeleine Thien as one of Canada’s most talented novelists”, and I can’t wait to read it.

The other Canadian nominee we share with the UK.  David Szalay’s novel in stories All That Man Is gives us glimpses into the lives of nine males at various stages of their lives.

From the US

selloutThe US has a strong presence on the longlist with five nominees:  The Sellout by Paul Beatty, a laugh out loud satire of race in America; acclaimed short story writer David Means’ Hystopiaan alternate history novel-within-a-novel;  Ottessa Moshfegh’s Eileen, which the Guardian called “a courageous, masterful evocation of physical and psychological squalor”;  Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves, a debut novel set to be published in Canada in January 2017, and Elizabeth Strout’s acclaimed My Name Is Lucy Barton.

From the UK

northwaterThere are also five contenders from the UK:  A.L. Kennedy for Serious Sweet, a love story that will be published in Canada in October 2016; Deborah Levy for Hot Milk, the story of a mother and daughter who travel to Spain in search of a cure for the mother’s illness; Graeme Macrae Burnet’s His Bloody Project, a historical courtroom drama set in Scotland that will be available in Canada in March 2017 (and looks amazing!); Ian McGuire’s The North Water, a tale about a 19th century Arctic whaling expedition; and The Many by Wyl Menmuir, a haunting novel about the effect a newcomer has on a small fishing village.

From South Africa/Australia

coetzeeThe Schooldays of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee

This sequel to The Childhood of Jesus will be published in Canada in October 2016.  If Coetzee wins the Booker this year, he’ll be the first person to ever win the award three times.  His previous wins are for The Life and Times of Michael K and Disgrace. 

Anyone want to predict the shortlist*?  Odds are your predictions will best mine.


*The shortlist will be announced on September 13, 2016. The winner will be announced on October 25, 2016. (Go, Madeleine Thien, go!)

Literary Prize Lovers’ TBR

gillerIt’s been an exciting week for literary fiction.  First up was the announcement of The Scotiabank Giller Prize’s 2015 longlist.  The list features twelve titles, and includes fantastic authors like Heather O’Neill (who read at this year’s North Shore Writers Fest).  With the shortlist being announced on October 5, only the most dedicated Canadian fiction fans will have time to tackle all twelve titles in time.  (Is it just me who spends an inordinate amount of energy ghost judging literary awards?)  If you only read a few, here’s what I recommend:

outlineOutline by Rachel Cusk

Get to know the main character of Outline, not through her actions, but for the things people confide in her.  The novel is told in ten conversations.  If the concept doesn’t grab you, it’s worth reading for the writing alone.

trueAll True Not a Lie in it by Alix Hawley

I enjoy historical fiction about the New World.  In Hawley’s debut novel she invites us into the man (and myth) of Daniel Boone (of whom I must confess I know nothing).  Author Alexei Zentner raves, “Alix Hawley’s debut novel is audacious and bold, like an early Ondaatje, with writing that is luscious, lyrical, and bloodthirsty.” 

undermajorUndermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt*

A foreboding castle.  A colourful cast of villagers.  A dark secret.  A beguiling beauty.  Welcome to Patrick deWitt’s world.


bookerAnd then this morning the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize was announced.  I’d read only two titles on the longlist (Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread, and Lalami’s The Moor’s Account) and was really hoping to see the latter make the cut.  Sadly, it didn’t, which only makes me more interested to get to know the titles that bested it.  My husband, has already read three of the shortlist and recommends:

sevenkillingsA Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

First off, there are way more than seven killings in this violent novel about a turbulent time in Jamaican history.  Second, it clearly evokes a sense of place and character.  Third, it’s HUGE, which is always an appealing quality in a fall read, no?

A Little Life by Hana Yanagiharalittlelife

See how anguished the guy on the cover looks?  Apparently the whole book is like that.  The whole book.  All 720 excruciatingly beautifully written pages of that level of pain.

What about you?  Are you excited for awards season?  Do you try and read the longlists, shortlists, or do you wait for the winner to be announced?  Sound off in the comments.

Happy Reading!


Man Booker Shortlist Revealed!

Two outta six ain’t bad, Canada.

This morning the Booker’s Dozen (aka the longlist for the Man Booker Prize) was whittled down to a shortlist of 6 diverse and exciting titles.  Two of which we Canadians can be proud of: BC-based Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for a Time Being* and Ontario-born Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries*.

So who will win?

Let’s take a closer look at the choices…

timebeingRuth Ozeki is the acclaimed author of My Year of Meats, a Zen Buddhist priest and the editor of Everyday Zen.  In her novel  A Tale for a Time Being, Ruth is a blocked writer living on an island off the coast of British Columbia.  Her life changes when a lunchbox filled with a Japanese girls’ diary washes ashore.  Not hooked yet?  Watch the book trailer here:

luminEleanor Catton has been shortlisted for The Luminaries, her follow-up to The Rehearsal, which was longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction.  The Rehearsal was  a fevered look at a sex scandal in a private school: a quick, memorable read.  The Luminaries is a historial epic — 800+ pages in length — and a murder mystery set in 19th century New Zealand.  If Catton wins, she’ll be the youngest Booker Prize winner ever — how cool would that be?

Other shortlistees include:

namesNoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names 

America is the land of the free, where anyone can pull themselves up by their bootstraps and be anyone they want to be.  Or can they?  This novel follows Darling as she leaves the violence of Zimbabwe for the safety of Lady Liberty only to find that immigration doesn’t always live up to its promise.

Jim Crace’s Harvestharvest

The story of an agricultural village under the threat of progress. Crace has just announced that this will be his last novel.

lowlandJhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland

Lahiri is best known for The Namesake, a book that remains among my many favourites.  (And not just because it was a touching film starring one of my celeb crushes Kumar Kal Penn.) The Lowland is the tale of two brothers:  one who immigrates to America, and the other who stays behind.

Colm Toibin’s The Testament of Marymary

Mother Mary is reimagined as a tragic heroine dealing with the senseless death of her son Jesus.

While I’m not crazy about the minimalist covers of most of these books, I’m pretty thrilled with the list.  Ultimately, my heart is with my homeland and I’d like to see Ozeki or Catton take home the prize.  What about you?

*Thank you as always to NetGalley for keeping me in books steeped in well-deserved accolades.


E-readers Updated!

There are currently 31 holds on one copy of  The Cuckoo’s Calling by, ahem, Robert Galbraith.  We have other paper copies on the way too.  But if you are at all like me…  You.   Simply.   Can’t.  Wait.  We get that.  So The Cuckoo’s Calling is among the 10 new titles available to be read when you borrow our Kobo, Kindle or Sony e-readers.  The others are pretty exciting too.  Take a look:

City of BonesThe Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

Artistic teen Clary Fray’s life is turned upside down when she discovers the existence of the Shadowhunters – a race of  demonhunters – in modern day New York City.  This is my favourite teen series with adult appeal AND it’s due out in theatres at the end of August.

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kermanorange

Critics are enthused about the new Netflix show, but is the real Piper’s life anywhere as dramatic as her fictional counterpart?  Only one way to find out…

timebeingA Tale for a Time Being* by Ruth Ozeki

The Booker’s Dozen was announced earlier this week and Ozeki is one of three Canadians up for the prestigious Man Booker prize thanks to this novel about the connected between a bullied Japanese teenager and a blocked novelist.

The Silver Star* by Jeannette Wallssilver-star

Made famous by The Glass Castle, a memoir of her unconventional childhood, Walls turns to fiction with The Silver Star.  Two sisters are casually abandoned by their mother.  They travel cross country to the town where their mother was raised to be taken in by their eccentric uncle.  Recommended for book clubs.

old man100 Year-old-man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

A centenarian with a long a colourful life behind him escapes from his 100th birthday party.


Other new additions to our ereaders include David Sedaris’ latest, Lets Explore Diabetes with Owls, John Green’s NYT bestseller, The Fault in Our Stars, Neil Gaiman’s latest (and one of my Summer Picks) The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Khaled Hosseini’s And The Mountains Echoed.

Happy E-reading!


*Thank you to NetGalley for providing e-galleys of these titles!

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?