Well, here it is a list of books waiting to be read. Some new writers, some old favourites but 13 books chosen by this year’s panel under the Chairmanship of Robert MacFarlane. Since I am pretty sure this isn’t Bobby MacFarlane the footballer, it must be the writer of such books as The Old Ways and Mountains of the Mind. I hope he will not mind if I compare his writing to Iain Sinclair, who does for London what Robert MacFarlane does for the countryside: render into words the earth beneath our feet. Mr MacFarlane, the writer, has also brought out a new book, graphically reviewed by another old friend, William Dalrymple, called Holloway, which I haven’t read yet but will have waiting for me once I have got through THE LIST.
On to the list then: we have three new writers – NoViolet Bulawayo We Need New Names, Eve Harris The Marrying of Chani Kaufman, Donal Ryan The Spinning Heart; we have very long books – The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton which runs to over 800 pages and very short books – The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibin, which latter has already been staged in America by Fiona Shaw, it was on in New York but I missed it by a whisker on my brief visit earlier this year, I was very disappointed indeed. There are previously listed authors who have not yet won – Tash Aw Five Star Billionaire, Jhumpa Lahiri (I think) The Lowland, and surprisingly Jim Crace, who was shortlisted for Quarantine, a truly remarkable book which went on to win other awards, but not The Booker, Mr Crace is long listed this year for Harvest, I read somewhere that he has said is his last book which is a pity. Along side those and no less interesting are Richard House The Kills, Colum McCann TransAtlantic, Charlotte Mendelson Almost English and Ruth Ozeki A Tale for the Time Being and Alison McLeod Unexploded.
So: no Khaled Hosseini, Samantha Harvey or Rachel Joyce all of whom are in my pile and will now have to wait. Unless the books that are not pulished until later this year haven’t arrived before I am done with the other nine or ten.
Watch this space!