Time for another Back Booker and this time we’ve focused on 2002. A year with a kind of seriousness about it. Though not in a moralistic or melancholy kind of way, rather the authors have demonstrated the impact of significant themes and topics with well constructed characters. As such they’ve offered points of view and reactions to the weighty matters of real life in a poignant way.
As a result there are some really heartfelt stories amongst the shortlisters. We considered, to what level do fictional families represent society in general? Here are our thoughts:
Family Matters has three generations of a Parsi family in Bombay living under the same roof in a cramped apartment with religion, hierarchy, untruths and wanting for better plaguing them every day. It is a strong novel with both modern and traditional elements that we’re sure many readers would relate to.
Set in a fictional fishing port in Western Australia, the characters of Dirt Music are contemplative and secretive. Yet they live in a society of wealth and indulgences, accidents and near deaths, criminal acts and violence as well as the serenity of the Australian way of life in a real slow burn of a novel.
The Story of Lucy Gault is not about what happened to Lucy Gault, it’s about the story of what happened to Lucy Gault, an Irish girl who disappeared, and how that affected her friends, family and community. It is a haunting book of silence and secrets where nothing feels quite right.
The chapter headings in Unless illustrate its pensiveness. Notwithstanding. Despite. Whatever. It is about a family whose daughter sits on a Toronto street corner with a begging bowl and a sign that says GOODNESS. They don’t know if she’s serious or acting. Though her mother wonders if she gets her life in order will she get her daughter back.
Life of Pi explores questions around faith, friendship and fiction in the tale of a religious Indian boy nicknamed Pi who becomes stranded on a lifeboat with a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Life experiences and morals abound as Pi establishes peace with the tiger, which he sees as his only possibility for survival.
Fingersmith is the most lighthearted of the lot. A story of a Victorian pickpocket who is enticed into a bigger job of theft. It’s long and twisted and satisfying, detailing the extent to which an orphan will go for acceptance, and the consequences for those who are conned. An enticing read!
But in the end Life Of Pi won out for us both, with its unusual plot and twists and turns. The author took a gamble, expecting the reader to go along with his absurd tale, but it seems many are willing to stretch the imagination in search of a great story and are able to see the serious intent of its foundations.
Best book 1st-6th: Suzy:
Life Of Pi
The Story of Lucy Gault
Best book 1st-6th: Rachel:
Life Of Pi
The Story Of Lucy Gault