Satin Island – Tom McCarthy


U, a corporate anthropologist, spends his days procrastinating over endless buffer-zones of information and becoming obsessed by images of the world.

❍ “It’s difficult to describe this book. It’s almost as if it doesn’t have a plot, rather it is made up of a number of fascinating sub-plots and stories narrated by various people. It is a book of ponderings and observations and insights which suddenly ends without any of that emotional rollercoaster ride usually associated with fiction reading.

The insights and observations are thought provoking and the prose intelligent and often beautiful, but I wasn’t moved by this book and I think that is an important consideration for a Man Booker shortlister.” – Rachel


❍ “This novel leaves me in a bit of a quandary. It’s a bit mad really. We never quite find out what the main character is doing, however we are privy to many of his throughts and musings. So what’s it about? Um… parachutes, cancer, anthropology, buffering, oil spills, Turin. And some other stuff.

Despite the the novel having little clarity at times, by completely giving in to the ridiculousness of it I appreciated the beautifully human and humane vignettes when they did appear. The pacing of this book is all over the place and would oscillate from being completely manic to considered, thoughtful and calm. This uneven rhythm somehow worked perfectly.

Novels that are this unusual often leave me with the sense of the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’. By this I mean that they unsuccessfully push the boundaries of traditional writing leaving everyone confused. However not wanting to be left out, we behave as though we are amazed and wowed while having no actual idea what the author is on about. (Yes I need to add that this is most certainly a reflection on my own abilities (or lack thereof) rather than those of a forward thinking and visionary author.)

Perhaps I am just grateful to get to the end of six Man Booker shortlisters. However for me the completely bewildering, yet deeply grounding, storytelling by the main character was enjoyable and overall Satin Island was a satisfying and uplifting read. – Suzy







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