By Medicine Hat News on September 29, 2017.
The Man Booker prize, for novels published in the UK, was first awarded in 1969. The sponsor, Man Group, was founded in 1783. I take this as a reminder that an interest in fine literature is neither new nor trendy, it is enduring.
The winner of The Man Booker Prize receives about C$83,000 but more importantly, also broad exposure, a huge increase in readership, and book sales. Hilary Mantel is the only winner so far whose book was already at the top of the best seller lists but the Man Booker has elevated many others. Finalists have been turned into successful films, “Schindler’s List,” “The Remains of the Day” and “The English Patient” among them.
It’s worth getting out of your comfort reading zone to check out some of the titles mentioned here or from the long list and archived lists, all available on the Man Booker Prize webpage.
“4321” by Paul Auster is available in e-book format via Overdrive. Searching in the catalogue requires a space between the numbers. If you haven’t tried the new, free, pleasant to use, Overdrive application “Libby” I highly recommend it.
You may or may not like George Saunders, but that may or may not have anything to do with whether you like his short-listed “Lincoln in the Bardo.” This work is a kind of ghost story, where Lincoln is the Abraham Lincoln and bardo is a Tibetan idea of the space between death and rebirth. Borrow either the paper book or the e-book.
A bleak coming of age sort of story, “History of Wolves” by Emily Fridlund is only available from your library in print. Reading the readers’ comments collected in your library’s Bibliocommons catalogue produces the same ‘loved it’ or ‘hated it’ disparity I found with the next book, “Exit West.”
Mohsin Hamid made the Man Booker short list before with “The Reluctant Fundamentalist.” Reviews from readers seem to swing from a fulcrum point of how the reader feels about mass human migration.
“Elmet” by Fiona Mozley is just on order now. We missed this one when it first came out, but it’s generated quite a bit of discussion online, notably in The Guardian newspaper, which has an excellent culture — and within it, books — section and is freely available online daily or with a bit of a backfile using our PressReader online service.
The Guardian also offers its own “Not the Booker” shortlist and readers blog which sets out to pick the year’s best book while implying that the Man Booker offerings can be a bit too rarified.
I am disposed to like “Autumn” by Ali Smith on the strength of her book “Public Libraries and Other Stories” but it’s signed out right now and I haven’t read it so I really shouldn’t offer comment. As always, read what you like, as much of a work as you like, make up your own mind, and discuss!
Shelley Ross is chief librarian at the Medicine Hat Public Library.
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