There are two massively long books on this year’s long list, I do wonder how many others there were on the 138 unselected titles. The longest by 200 pages is The Kills by Richard House.
The Kills is sub-titled Books 1-4, so maybe we should expect another fat volume in a few years? It is honestly hard to work out whether this is one novel or four. Imagine for instance if The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo and the other titles had been published in one volume, would that be one novel or three? The Kills is a bit like this, there are definitely connections, in Books 1 and 2 we are following the same story, only slightly backwards; that is to say what happens in Book 1 – Sutler is fully explained in Book 2 – The Massive, they would stand alone, but tottering. Book 3 – The Kill however, is quite another thing and though it has more than tenuous links with the previous two books, it would have stood alone BUT then the link would have been much weaker if a reader didn’t, or chose not to, read Book 3. However, it is when you start to read Book 4 – The Hit that the reader finds out how essential it has been to read the whole book.
I have created a dramatis personae file of characters, this book is not only long but has a large cast, many of whom have the same first names, Paul and Matthew (in various languages) figure frequently. Some people come in three of the books, some only in one and some in two. So if you want some help here is the file The Kills Books 1-4 If I am right and Books 5-8 are on there way this may come in handy to remind us of who everyone is or was.
This is quite a departure for the Man Booker, for a very long time there were never any historical novels, literature only encompassed World War 1 and not much before that, Hilary Mantel changed that and went on to win. The Kills has broken the mould again, this is a thriller. There is no doubt that it is an exceedingly clever book and not only that, it has a related website which the reader is invited to visit along the way or after having finished. What this means is real terms I am not yet sure, this might be a Man Booker winner but not for my vote. But it remains a good read and were it not so massively heavy I would recommend it for the beach, far be it for me to say e-book…
So now that is done and dusted on with the remaining 10, thank goodness they are not all quite so long, the Tóibin is only 104 pages, I think I will read that next.