The Man Booker Prize shortlist announcement is hours away and I've been working hard to read my way through the list. Despite my best intentions, I was only able to completely read seven of this year's nominees as well as three others in part. That leaves three novels that are at this point a complete mystery to me, so I cannot speak on them. Here are some thoughts on who might make the list tomorrow.
I think Home Fire, Exit West, and Days Without End are the three strongest contenders from the ten I've read. I will be surprised if these three do not make the shortlist. I'll be really surprised if none of the three do.
Personally, I didn't enjoy The Underground Railroad much, but I think it also stands a good chance of being shortlisted. I'll be annoyed if wins the Prize given how much attention it has garnered this year, but a shortlist nomination would be accepted.
Rounding out the list is difficult. Autumn and Solar Bones are possible contenders.
I'd love to see History of Wolves on the list as it has been a personal favorite, so far. I know many readers had a very different reaction to this novel, however, so it's a long shot to make the list. (And it has zero chance of winning the Prize.)
If I had to put money on six and only six titles, they'd be
1. Home Fire
2. Days Without End
3. Exit West
4. The Underground Railroad
6. History of Wolves (anything's possible, right?)
Have you been reading the Man Booker nominees? Have any thoughts on who might be shortlisted?
This boxset consists of three books that are a continuing story, and considering the cliffys at the end of books one and two, I'm glad I got to read them all at once. The writing is very good and the first chapter of book one, Havoc, quickly pulled me in with Selene's heartbreaking story and had my mind going in a different direction than the story actually goes. From there, it took me a bit to warm back up to the story, but once I did, I found myself wanting to know more about this couple. There is an element of suspense with a stalker and as that escalates, so does the tension, but that doesn't really pick up until the second book. I will say that the whole story is a very emotionally charged romance and the passion between Selene and Remington felt quite real and the character development was excellent.But, book three is where the story began to lose me again. There was so much going on and it was a bit rushed in the end. I felt like the series could've done with another book to completely tie things up and do the story justice. That, I believe, could have easily moved this one into the five-star ranking.
Autumn is a little crazy, but wholly beautiful. By a little crazy, I mean that to the average reader, it is a disjointed mess. By being beautiful, I mean that Smith has a way with weaving gorgeous prose. I haven't read enough Ali Smith to know if this is just her style—it is my third—but I'm beginning to think it may be. And while Autumn is definitely more humorous, poignant, and breathtaking than other works I've read from the author, it's such an incredibly broken story (structurally speaking) that I'm hesitant to heap too much praise on it.
Autumn is the story of Elisabeth and her relationship with her mother. It is the story of Daniel, a centenarian who has been mentor and friend to Elisabeth. It is a story about bureaucracy and the results of Brexit, a tale of acceptance and prejudice. It is a story as old as Keats and as 'contemporary' as Trump. And it is the tragedy of Pauline Boty, 1960s British pop artist. It's Boty's story that really pulls the reader in. Despite the wonderfully written sentences and the joys of watching Elisabeth apply for a passport, nothing stuck with me in this story more than the tale of Boty.
I hadn't heard of Boty prior to reading this novel. I doubt many readers will have. I wondered whether she was even a real person or merely a fictional creation of the author's, so I hopped on over to my local search engine and began a research project that ended hours later.
Being a relatively little known but successful artist and actress during her brief life, it is a wonder Boty is not better known today. The fact that she's not, paired with the story of her tragic death (...and her husband's … and their daughter's), makes her story all the more interesting. It's a family tragedy that draws comparisons to the Brontȅ's. You can feel, in this novel, that Smith was getting sucked into the story of Boty, whether that was her original intention with the novel or not. In turn, the reader, attracted by that passion, is easily pulled in too.
Elisabeth is a wonderful character. She is funny in her moments of desperation; she inspires during her more reflective moments. The whole cast is fine. The story is jumbled, but it's certainly not bad. The language is, as I mentioned, phenomenal. The scenes are drawn with skill. Autumn is a very capable novel, but what sticks with me in the end is the story of Boty. But Boty is only a fragment of what this novel is about. It's about so many things. That lack of focus kept me from loving this novel as much as I might have otherwise.
Man Booker Prize 2017:
Although I had planned on reading this novel eventually, I was spurred to read it sooner as an attempt to make it through the 2017 Man Booker longlist. I may revise my thoughts on Smith's chances of winning after I've completed more of the books on this year's list, but I think Autumnstands a fair chance to make it to the shortlist. It's intelligent, beautiful, and extremely poignant, and those are three factors that tend to play into the Man Booker Prize. Not having read enough of the other nominees at this point, I can't attest to Autumn's overall chances of taking the prize, but I think there have got to be better candidates amongst this year's nominees. I will not be shocked if Autumn makes it to the shortlist; neither will I be shocked if it is cut.