2017 Man Booker Prize – Winner Prediction

The winner of this year’s Man Booker Prize will be announced on Tuesday, and whilst I’ve attempted to read this year’s shortlist, I’m only four and a half books into the six, largely due to 4 3 2 1 taking a week longer to read than I’d expected.  Despite this, I’m still going to make a prediction of the winner of this year’s prize.

Here’s a reminder of the shortlist, and my thoughts on each.


4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster

4 3 2 1

4 3 2 1 is a bit of a monster, and whilst I have now finished reading it, I haven’t had chance to review it yet.  Despite its size and the fact that it took me a long time to read, I did enjoy this novel in which the reader is introduced to Archibald Isaac Ferguson (Archie) not once but four times, as we see four different versions of how this character’s life might have turned out.  It’s big and complex, and keeping the different stories separate wasn’t always easy, as some characters appear multiple times – his girlfriend in one version of his life is his cousin in another, for example, and given the length, it was easy to confuse the different versions, but this is a rewarding read with a nice little twist at the end.


History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

history of wolves

The first novel from this year’s shortlist that I read (you can see my full review here), and a novel that I really enjoyed.  Fridlund’s debut novel is something of a bildungsroman featuring 14-year-old Linda, who lives with her parents in near-isolation, making the whole family outsiders in the community.  It touches on various themes, particularly that of loneliness, and looks at the effect of a tragedy on Linda, who doesn’t fully understand what’s happening at the time.  This is an incredibly strong debut novel, and whilst I don’t think that History of Wolves will win this year’s prize, I think that it marks Fridlund as one to watch.


Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

exit west

I absolutely loved the blurb of Exit West when the longlist was announced in July, and I picked up a copy straightaway.  Perhaps because of my expectations, I didn’t enjoy as much as I hoped.  Set in an unnamed country, Nadia and Saeed are two young people who meet and begin to fall in love as their country collapses around them in civil war.  As the situation becomes increasingly difficult, they look to escape through one of the doors that appears – doors that will take them to another country.  Incredibly topical, I felt that this novel dealt with the issues facing refugees and that countries that they enter a little too simplistic, but that’s is just my opinion.  Mohsin adopts a sparse narrative style throughout, however, and so this may have been deliberate.  My full review can be found here.


Elmet by Fiona Mosley

elmet

Elmet is another debut novel, and is the one that I haven’t read or started reading yet.  It’s hard to judge it without having read the novel, but I think that there are two main contenders for this year’s prize, and purely on that basis, I don’t see this winning this year’s Booker. Here’s the synopsis:

Fresh and distinctive writing from an exciting new voice in fiction, Elmet is an unforgettable novel about family, as well as a beautiful meditation on landscape.

Daniel is heading north. He is looking for someone. The simplicity of his early life with Daddy and Cathy has turned sour and fearful. They lived apart in the house that Daddy built for them with his bare hands. They foraged and hunted. When they were younger, Daniel and Cathy had gone to school. But they were not like the other children then, and they were even less like them now. Sometimes Daddy disappeared, and would return with a rage in his eyes. But when he was at home he was at peace. He told them that the little copse in Elmet was theirs alone. But that wasn’t true. Local men, greedy and watchful, began to circle like vultures. All the while, the terrible violence in Daddy grew.

Atmospheric and unsettling, Elmet is a lyrical commentary on contemporary society and one family’s precarious place in it, as well as an exploration of how deep the bond between father and child can go.


Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

lincoln in the bardo

As the American Civil War begins, Abraham Lincoln’s household is hit by tragedy – the death of his eleven-year-old son, Willie.  Told over the course of a single night, the reader is introduced to a cast of bizarre characters in the “Bardo” – a Tibetan purgatory, where those unwilling or unable to accept their death languish.

With a unique structure, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel which was a little confusing at first, but soon picks up the pace once you get used to the narration, and I think that this is a strong contender for the prize.  My full review can be found here.


Autumn by Ali Smith

autumn

At the time of writing, I’m around halfway through this novel.  I haven’t read much by Ali Smith – I attempted How to be Both, but didn’t get into it, and I abandoned it without finishing it.  I’m enjoying Autumn more, but I’m still not sure that the style – which is wholly unique – is quite to my taste.  Having been nominated for the award four times (watch out Beryl Bainbridge, there may be a contender for the title of Booker Bridesmaid), I do think that this is the other main contender this year.  Here’s the synopsis:

Fusing Keatsian mists and mellow fruitfulness with the vitality, the immediacy and the colour-hit of Pop Art (via a bit of very contemporary skulduggery and skull-diggery), Autumn is a witty excavation of the present by the past. The novel is a stripped-branches take on popular culture and a meditation, in a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, what harvest means.

Autumn is the first instalment in Ali Smith’s novel quartet Seasonal: four standalone books, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as the seasons are), exploring what time is, how we experience it, and the recurring markers in the shapes our lives take and in our ways with narrative.

From the imagination of the peerless Ali Smith comes a shape-shifting series, wide-ranging in timescale and light-footed through histories, and a story about ageing and time and love and stories themselves.


booker logo 2017

So, in my opinion this year’s Booker is a toss-up between George Saunders and Ali Smith.  Saunders appears to be the bookie’s favourite, and, much like the Grand National, the favourite never wins.  For that reason alone, I’m going to say that Ali Smith will win this year, as I’ve no other way of picking one over the other.

What do you think?  Have you read any of the shortlisted titles?  Who do you think will win?

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Excerpt: ZENKA by Alison Brody

Today I’m delighted to share with you an excerpt from ZENKA by Alison Brody, which will be published in November.  Alison was kind enough to share a copy of ZENKA with me for review, and I’m looking forward to reading it soon!

Synopsis

Zenka_Final_Amazon_1535x2500Ruthless, capricious, and loyal.

Zenka is a Hungarian pole-dancer with a dark past.

When cranky London mob boss, Jack Murray, saves her life she vows to become his guardian angel – whether he likes it or not.  Happily, she now has easy access to pistols and shotguns.

Jack learns he has a son, Nicholas, a male nurse with a heart of gold.  Problem is, Nicholas is a wimp.

Zenka takes charges.  Using her feminine wiles and gangland contacts, she aims to turn Nicholas into a son any self-respecting crime boss would be proud of.  And she succeeds!

Nicholas transforms from pussycat to mad dog, falls in love with Zenka, and finds out where the bodies are buried – because he buries them.  He’s learning fast that sometimes you have to kill, or be killed.

As his life becomes more terrifying, questions have to be asked:

How do you tell a crime boss you don’t want to be his son?

And is Zenka really who she says she is?


Excerpt

Prologue One

Zenka

7 July, 2011

My dearest Alina,

Olga Savchukis is a lying bitch.  She say I vill be taken care of.  I vill get good job in London.  Good job?!  She sells me to Romanians.  I kick man in balls.  I bite.  But I cannot get out.  Even vindows locked.  I know if I am injected I can never escape, NEVER.

Suddenly doors crash open and there is much shooting of guns.  After is silence.  A man with a face like crumpled McDonald bag takes us outside.  The other girls are like sleepvalkers.  We have to step over dead Romanians.

The man who saves us is Jack Murray – I am not allowed to tell who he is, but I can tell YOU because you are in Hungary and cannot sneak.  He is top gang boss in London.

He hates Romanians.  He says it’s very bad thing they do to girls.  The girls who escaped that night get jobs in bakery and supermarket.  Me?  I vill not leave Jack.

Remember the puppy, Yuki?  I am like that.  I follow Jack all around.  He says I am nuisance.  I offer myself to him.  I am virgin but he deserves me.  But he doesn’t vant me!  He says he is too old.  I say he is not too old.  He tries to ignore me.  But nobody can ignore Zenka Valentina Varga if she does not vant to be ignored.  Ha!

You saved my life, I tell him, now I am your guardian angel.  He rolls his eyes to heaven as if seeking patience from God, and says:  How can you be guardian angel ven you are only five foot two?  I say I am small but a grenade is also small.

I get job in Jack’s club, The Men’s Room.  I tell manager I do pole dancing.  (That is ven girl climbs up and down pole – I don’t make it sound sexy – but it is ven it is done right).  Me?  I try to turn upside down, and fall into a heap.  Now I am STAR performer!

I ver vigs, blonde, black, orange, pink, depending on my mood.  Job pays good vage and the customers throw money on the stage – not like other places ver the man puts money in girl’s panties with fingers – urgh!  If man touches me, I slap his face.  He is shocked but his friends laugh.

Jack tells me not to attack customers – it is not good for business, he say.  Yesterday I scratch customer because he hurts new girl.  Jack is angry with me, but then he goes outside and punches the customer.  So JACK can punch but I cannot scratch?  Ver is the justice in THAT?

Jack has bodyguards.  Lockjaw looks like Frankenstein.  Vince is tall but he never talk.  Billy is short and square and he talk too much.  He teaches me Cockney:

“Bollocks” is a man’s balls.  But if you say “Don’t drop a bollock” it means don’t make a mistake.  “I’m the dog’s bollocks” is ven man thinks he is the best.  Jack says this all the time.

I have to tell you. Ven Jack is angry, it makes me laugh.  He can be tough with men, but he cannot be tough with vomen.  He is like the father I never had.  He tells me to find good husband and I say, yes, yes, Jack, to shut his mouth.

My dearest friend.  Do you know ver Olga Savchukis can be found?  If you know this, tell me.  Then I can kill her.

Your loving friend,

Zenka. x

Z-Sheturnedhislifeupside


About the Author

Author photo

Alison Brodie is a Scot, with French Huguenot ancestors on her mother’s side.

Brodie is an international, best-selling author.  Her books have been published by Hodder & Stoughton (UK), Heyne (Germany) and Unieboek (Holland).

Reviews for her debut, FACE TO FACE:  “Fun to snuggle up with” –GOOD HOUSEKEEPING Pick of the Paperbacks.

“Vane but wildly funny leading lady” – Scottish Daily Mail.

Brodie has now gone “indie”.  Here are some editorial reviews for her recent books.

BRAKE FAILURE: “Masterpiece of humor” – Midwest Book Review

THE DOUBLE: “Proof of her genius in writing fiction” – San Francisco Book Review.

ZENKA (to be released 6 Nov, 2017):  “ZENKA is top of my list for best fiction this year.  If Tina Fey and Simon Pegg got together to write a dark and hilarious mobster story with a happy ending, ZENKA would be the result.” – Lauren Sapala, WriteCity

You can find out more about Alison through the following links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/alisonbrodie2

Website: http://www.alisonbrodiebooks.com/untitled

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35845259-zenka

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlisonBrodieAuthor/


ZENKA will be published on 6 November, and is available to pre-order now:

UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07534Y6QZ

US:   https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07534Y6QZ

UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07534Y6QZ

Canada:  https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07534Y6QZ

Australia:  https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07534Y6QZ

This Week in Books – 11-10-17

TWIB - logo

This Week in Books is a feature hosted by Lipsy at Lipsyy Lost and Found that allows bloggers to share:

  • What they’ve recently finished reading
  • What they are currently reading
  • What they are planning to read next

The last book I finished was Colson Whitehead’s brilliant The Underground Railroad, which I reviewed on Monday.

the underground railroad

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. All the slaves lead a hellish existence, but Cora has it worse than most; she is an outcast even among her fellow Africans and she is approaching womanhood, where it is clear even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a slave recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they take the perilous decision to escape to the North.

In Whitehead’s razor-sharp imagining of the antebellum South, the Underground Railroad has assumed a physical form: a dilapidated box car pulled along subterranean tracks by a steam locomotive, picking up fugitives wherever it can. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But its placid surface masks an infernal scheme designed for its unknowing black inhabitants. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher sent to find Cora, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

At each stop on her journey, Cora encounters a different world. As Whitehead brilliantly recreates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America, from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once the story of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shatteringly powerful meditation on history.


My current read is Booker Shortlisted 4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster – which I’m enjoying (good news, given the size of it!)

4 3 2 1

On March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson’s life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four Fergusons made of the same genetic material, four boys who are the same boy, will go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. Family fortunes diverge. Loves and friendships and intellectual passions contrast. Chapter by chapter, the rotating narratives evolve into an elaborate dance of inner worlds enfolded within the outer forces of history as, one by one, the intimate plot of each Ferguson’s story rushes on across the tumultuous and fractured terrain of mid twentieth-century America. A boy grows up-again and again and again.

As inventive and dexterously constructed as anything Paul Auster has ever written 4 3 2 1 is an unforgettable tour de force, the crowning work of this masterful writer’s extraordinary career.


My next read will be either Autumn by Ali Smith, or Elmet by Fiona Mozley – I haven’t decided which!

autumn

Fusing Keatsian mists and mellow fruitfulness with the vitality, the immediacy and the colour-hit of Pop Art (via a bit of very contemporary skulduggery and skull-diggery), Autumn is a witty excavation of the present by the past. The novel is a stripped-branches take on popular culture and a meditation, in a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, what harvest means.

Autumn is the first instalment in Ali Smith’s novel quartet Seasonal: four standalone books, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as the seasons are), exploring what time is, how we experience it, and the recurring markers in the shapes our lives take and in our ways with narrative.

From the imagination of the peerless Ali Smith comes a shape-shifting series, wide-ranging in timescale and light-footed through histories, and a story about ageing and time and love and stories themselves.

elmet

Fresh and distinctive writing from an exciting new voice in fiction, Elmet is an unforgettable novel about family, as well as a beautiful meditation on landscape.

Daniel is heading north. He is looking for someone. The simplicity of his early life with Daddy and Cathy has turned sour and fearful. They lived apart in the house that Daddy built for them with his bare hands. They foraged and hunted. When they were younger, Daniel and Cathy had gone to school. But they were not like the other children then, and they were even less like them now. Sometimes Daddy disappeared, and would return with a rage in his eyes. But when he was at home he was at peace. He told them that the little copse in Elmet was theirs alone. But that wasn’t true. Local men, greedy and watchful, began to circle like vultures. All the while, the terrible violence in Daddy grew.

Atmospheric and unsettling, Elmet is a lyrical commentary on contemporary society and one family’s precarious place in it, as well as an exploration of how deep the bond between father and child can go.


Have you read Autumn or Elmet?  Do let me know which you think I should start next!

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

the underground railroad

The Underground Railroad is one of those books that I’ve been wanting to read since it’s publication in 2016, but sadly never quite got around to until my book group chose to read it in September.  Given all the hype surrounding it, I was wondering whether it would live up to my expectations, and I think that I was a surprised to enjoy it as much as I did.

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. All the slaves lead a hellish existence, but Cora has it worse than most; she is an outcast even among her fellow Africans and she is approaching womanhood, where it is clear even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a slave recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they take the perilous decision to escape to the North.

In Whitehead’s razor-sharp imagining of the antebellum South, the Underground Railroad has assumed a physical form: a dilapidated box car pulled along subterranean tracks by a steam locomotive, picking up fugitives wherever it can. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But its placid surface masks an infernal scheme designed for its unknowing black inhabitants. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher sent to find Cora, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

At each stop on her journey, Cora encounters a different world. As Whitehead brilliantly recreates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America, from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once the story of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shatteringly powerful meditation on history.

The Underground Railroad isn’t a new story, and there are plenty of novels covering slavery, the horrors faced on the plantations, and what came of those who dared to run.  But whilst it’s not new, it doesn’t make it any less important, and slavery, its abolition in the mid-nineteenth century and what came after had far reaching affects that can still be felt today.  I personally felt that this was one of the better examples of a novel tackling this difficult subject, and I particularly loved that the “underground railroad” – a term used to denote the covert movement of slaves and those that helped them – became a physical entity in the novel.

Whitehead’s portrayal of plantations and the lives of slaves comes across as being incredibly accurate, and Whitehead successfully captures the horror of how they lived and how they were treated.

A plantation was a plantation; one might think one’s misfortunes distinct, but the true horror lay in their universality.

One element that I thought that Whitehead did particularly well was in avoiding trivialising what happens to Cora.  Much of it is expected, both by the reader and by Cora herself, and so it would be extremely easy to not dwell on it, and to have Cora accept her circumstances and move on.  Except that, expected or not, it would have a lasting effect on a person, and without labouring the point, Whitehead portrays this extremely well.  Similarly, I thought that there were subtle elements to the novel that showcased what life was like – for example, the way in which Ridgeway referring to those he rounded up as “it” rather than he or she.  I found this to be subtle yet shocking when I picked up on it, and felt angry at the dehumanisation of these individuals.

I also liked the characterisation in the novel.  Cora is a particularly strong and bright individual, and is always wary of becoming too lax, even (particularly) when things seem to be going well.  For entirely different reasons, I also thought that Ridgeway was brilliantly portrayed.  Ridgeway chases Cora with a persistence bordering on obsession, likely because her mother was the one slave that escaped him when she ran years before.  Yet he also comes across as being somewhat atypical, and whilst unpleasant, his multi-faceted character is an interesting one.

The Underground Railroad does jump around in time a little, but I felt that this was well done, and offered a sense of suspense and unease at what may be coming next.  And it’s not all doom and gloom – there is an element of hope offered.  This is a brilliantly written novel that is easy to read despite some of the subject matter, and it’s one that will stay me for a long time to come.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Blog Tour: Death in the Stars by Frances Brody

Death in the Stars - Cover

Today I’m delighted to share with you my review of Death in the Stars, the ninth outing for private investigator Kate Shackleton.

Yorkshire, 1927. Eclipse fever grips the nation, and when beloved theatre star Selina Fellini approaches trusted sleuth Kate Shackleton to accompany her to a viewing party at Giggleswick School Chapel, Kate suspects an ulterior motive.

During the eclipse, Selina’s friend and co-star Billy Moffatt disappears and is later found dead in the chapel grounds. Kate can’t help but dig deeper and soon learns that two other members of the theatre troupe died in similarly mysterious circumstances in the past year. With the help of Jim Sykes and Mrs Sugden, Kate sets about investigating the deaths – and whether there is a murderer in the company.

When Selina’s elusive husband Jarrod, injured in the war and subject to violent mood swings, comes back on the scene, Kate begins to imagine something far deadlier at play, and wonders just who will be next to pay the ultimate price for fame…

As I’ve mentioned, Death in the Stars is the ninth book in the Kate Shackleton Mysteries, featuring the wonderful Kate and her small team comprised of Mrs Sugden and former police officer Jim Sykes, but you don’t need to have read the whole series to appreciate this one.  I’ve only read the previous novel, Death at the Seaside, and I don’t feel that this puts the reader at a disadvantage at all.

I have to admit that I did prefer this novel to the previous one.  In Death at the Seaside, I felt that Kate, who was on holiday at the time, wasn’t fully invested in the case, which she (almost literally) stumbled across.  Here, Kate and her team are involved from the beginning, and I felt that this novel had more investigative work involved in order to solve the mystery which made it a more interesting tale.

I really like Kate as a character, and I’m sure that her chosen profession would have been somewhat frowned upon in the 1920s.  Interestingly, Brody chooses not to explore this element in the novel (it may be covered in earlier novels in the series), which was something I was quite grateful for.  Whilst this might have given the novel a more real setting, not everything has to comment upon the social standards of the time, and this allows the reader to focus on the crime and spotting the clues before the big reveal at the end.

Death in the Stars depicts a fascinating mystery with multiple clues, suspects and red herrings thrown in along the way.  I did work out the “whodunnit”, but I of course kept reading to make sure that I was correct!  A wonderful “cosy crime” novel with an excellent main character.

Death in the Stars is published today by Piatkus – many thanks to Clara Diaz at Little, Brown Book Group for providing a copy for review, and for inviting me to join the blog tour.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Make sure you check out the other stops on the blog tour!

Blog Tour Poster

About the Author:Frances Brody Oct17

Frances Brody is the author of the Kate Shackleton mysteries, as well as many stories and plays for BBC Radio, scripts for television and four sagas, one of which won the HarperCollins Elizabeth Elgin Award. Her stage plays have been toured by several theatre companies and produced at Manchester Library Theatre, the Gate and Nottingham Playhouse, and Jehad was nominated for a Time Out Award.

Beat the Backlist Challenge Update

beat-the-backlist-2017

Another month gone, and the weather has turned decidedly autumnal which, if nothing else, gives us even more of an excuse to hide away with a book and a hot beverage.

Between reading through this year’s Booker shortlist and review copies, I haven’t managed to read any of my backlist titles for Novel Knight’s BTB Challenge this month! 😥

I am hoping to make a bit of a dint in my backlist this month, however, as I’m taking part in Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon.  This is an event I’ve done before (see here), and even though I don’t think I’ll be able to read for the full 24 hours (I like sleep way too much for that!) I’m hoping that I can get through five or six titles over the weekend, and I’m going to try to focus predominantly on older titles that I’ve had for a while.

TBW Watch

Whilst I haven’t read any of my older books, I did decide to have a bit of a cull of my TBR, and I’ve removed a few books that I just don’t think I’ll ever get around to reading.  Some of these went to friends, others to the charity shop.  Either way, I hope that they’ll find good homes!

So, my TBR now looks something like this:

TBR 1 Oct 17

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

exit west

My third book from this year’s Man Booker Prize shortlist was Exit West by Mohsin Hamid.  This was a title that I hadn’t heard of until its Booker longlisting, and one that I was instantly intrigued by.

Nadia and Saeed are two ordinary young people, attempting to do an extraordinary thing – to fall in love – in a world turned upside down. Theirs will be a love story but also a story about how we live now and how we might live tomorrow, of a world in crisis and two human beings travelling through it.

Civil war has come to the city which Nadia and Saeed call home. Before long they will need to leave their motherland behind – when the streets are no longer useable and the unknown is safer than the known. They will join the great outpouring of people fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world…

Exit West opens in an unnamed country on the brink of civil war.  Things seem relatively normal at first, with our two protagonists meeting for coffee, an evening meal, and going through the initial steps of establishing a new relationship.  Things do soon take a downward turn as the war begins in earnest, however, and particularly when the internet and their mobile phones are cut off, making communication increasingly difficult, and causing a great deal of concern over the safety of each other, their families etc..

Nadia and Saeed are initially unable to leave their homeland, until they begin the hear rumours of doors appearing – doors that will take them to other countries and away from their war-torn homes.  Through this element of magical realism, Hamid portrays the issues facing migrants as well as those who, willingly or otherwise, take them in.  Whilst this is extremely relevant to today’s world, I personally felt that the treatment of the refugees and the feelings of those who live in the places that they’ve migrated to was a little over-simplified.  This is very much the style of Exit West, however, which adopts a sparse narrative style throughout.

Whilst the story focuses upon Nadia and Saeed for the most part, there were also little vignettes depicting unnamed characters completely unrelated to the main storyline.  I wasn’t convinced that these sections (there aren’t many, and they are brief) added much to the novel, other than perhaps showing that life, elsewhere, was continuing, and I found them to be a little distracting.

I loved the sound of this novel, but unfortunately found it to be not quite to my taste.  I like the premise, but I felt that this was an exercise in style over substance.  That said, the Booker does like novels that experiment with structure and style, and so this may go on to win the prize, although I’m not convinced that it should.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐