2015 Bookerthon

2015

For Bookerthon 2015 we have ventured to beautiful Northland to complete our reading and discussion of the six eclectic books that make up this year’s shortlist. With Suzy having moved out of Nelson (sob!) we felt we needed to be in the same location for a weekend of sun, beach, wine and a stack of books to reveal our thoughts.

Our discussions began with the announcement from Booker judge Michael Wood that this year’s shortlisters contained “a lot of violence. They are pretty grim”. Yes, this comment put a little fear into us from the outset, but overall we found the violence integral to the stories and a valuable part of each book’s journey. There were a couple of exceptions. The endless misery in A Little Life became difficult to deal with and the violent gang activities in A Brief History of Seven Killings while not traumatising did get tiresome.

That said, each of the six books is unique, with its own considered focus, and our discussions have centered around this diversity. Of course this results in both harsh and pleasing assessments from the reviewers but upon indepth discussion, debate and consideration, we can appreciate why each book was shortlisted, even if they didn’t all rate highly in our own pleasurable-reading stakes.

Tom McCarthy has sought to write the epitomy of intelligence with Satin Island; A Little Life is the ultimate case study of suffering (but, we agreed, could have been so much better if it hadn’t been as far-fetched as it was); A Spool of Blue Thread is a brilliantly realistic portrayal of family life and very moving; The Year of the Runaways captures the honour, pride and dignity of a group of people not often written about; The Fishermen is a deeply metaphorical book that examines many different types of storytelling at once, seamlessly; and A Brief History of Seven Killings, we’ve concluded, is an important part of Jamaican history that needed to be told, albeit in various tongues by 15 different people.

So, while they all have their place in the lineup and in the bookshelves of history, we agree there is one that combines all of these aforementioned attributes more than the others. The Fishermen is the ultimate story, it is meaningful, full of history, with loveable, well-written characters. It is intelligent and witty, moving and sad. There is no emotion you don’t experience while reading The Fishermen. Chigozie Obioma – our pick for winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize.

Suzy’s favourites 1st-6th
The Fishermen
A Spool of Blue Thread
The Year of the Runaways
Satin Island
A Brief History of Seven Killings
A Little Life

Rachel’s favourites 1st-6th
The Fishermen
A Spool of Blue Thread
The Year of the Runaways
A Little Life
Satin Island
A Brief History of Seven Killings

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