2011 – Bookerthon

2011 Booker

A year in the life of a Booker judge must be such a challenge. What is the best book of the year? Is it one that represents the past 12 months on a global scale? Is it one that tackles serious topics, or one which brings a light heartedness to proceedings? Should the shortlist lead the way in literary talent or be an indication of the tried and true?

And, what is the most palatable level of readability? Pushing the boundaries too much might deter readers but not providing some intellectual challenge could be a mistake too.

After reading this year’s shortlist, we are under the distinct impression that these finalists are all sitting someone amongst the middle of all these criteria. Each and every one is readable and attainable and any reader could safely pick up one of these books and not be overwhelmed nor bored.

Whether this was intentional or not we are not sure, perhaps there was a conscious decision to sway away from the more scholarly books, or perhaps this year’s judges just prefer a good, rollicking read.

We are not complaining as we read every book with gusto, enjoyed them all, and felt able to recommend them all to fellow bookies. However, we are slightly disappointed that we didn’t discover some miraculous literary talent that would change our lives. But we found the books approachable and enjoyable and can’t really complain, though they probably won’t sit atop any of our all time favourites’ lists.

Jamrach’s Menagrie is a startling story of men lost at sea during the Victorian era, The Sisters Brothers a hilarious Western parody, and Pigeon English is a shocking mystery based around a poor immigrant family.

The Sense Of An Ending is a touching look at memories and the loss of them, Half Blood Blues covers some serious post war issues in an entertaining way while Snowdrops studies personal relationships in a frozen Moscow winter.

While we may disagree on what should top the list, we both agree that are all worthy of recommendation. You couldn’t go wrong with this year’s shortlist if you want to add some safe bets to add to your TBR pile.

Best book 1st-6th: Suzy:
The Sisters Brothers
Snowdrops
Pigeon English
Jamrach’s Menagerie
Half Blood Blues
The Sense Of An Ending

Best book 1st-6th: Rachel:
The Sense Of An Ending
Jamrach’s Menagerie
The Sisters Brothers
Snowdrops
Half Blood Blues
Pigeon English

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