The 2013 Booker Conversations is a series of in-depth, spoiler-free discussions between BookerMarks bloggers about this year’s nominated titles.
Today, Aaron Westerman, Michelle Williams, and Jackie Hirst partake in an in-depth (mostly) spoiler-free discussion about Ruth Ozeki’s novel A Tale for the Time Being.
Aaron is Opinionless. Except of course when it comes to books or movies. He’s the co-founder of Typographical Era where he blogs on a regular basis about the latest in translated literature, foreign cinema, and more.
Michelle Williams is an avid “reader” of books and a “rider” of bicycles. When she is not cycling you can catch her reading and when she is not reading, well, she is probably pedaling about somewhere. Her blog, A Reader and A Rider journals her reviews of literary fiction.
Jackie Hirst is a book freak and a Duran Duran enthusiast. She’s also 1/3 of the Literary Hoarders.
Ruth Ozeki’s Man Booker Prize shortlisted novel A Tale For The Time Being is chock full of references to cat anus and dog nuts. It’s also a fascinating novel about quantum physics, religion, faith, writer’s block, and bullying.
It feels like it’s been a really long time since the last podcast, because, well, it has been! This one has actually been sitting in the can, patiently waiting its turn to be edited for quite some time and we’re happy to finally get it out to the world. Expect two more podcasts later in the week to make up for such a long period of silence.
In this episode Michelle wishes that Karli was her life coach, Karli longs to get hallucinogenic, Aaron calls Jesus an asshole on Penny’s behalf, Jackie plays the part of Mike, and Elizabeth wonders why the experience of reading this year’s crop of shortlisted novels hasn’t been all that fulfilling.
A Novel by Jhumpa Lahiri
2013 /352 Pages
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri was read for the BookerMarks project as it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2013.
Lahiri’s novel followed immediately after my closing the final pages of The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. There is an obvious and dramatic difference in writing styles between the two, with Lahiri using a much stripped down use of language. I found it to be very refreshing.
I also have to say I was completely engaged from the beginning to the very end. I found that I was wanting to return to The Lowland every chance I was able to. Again, extremely refreshing, especially for one of the Man Booker choices this year. Many times, the impact of those sharp focused sentences were so arresting they were the cause for me to stop, re-read and think. However, one “star” was removed from my rating as the characters were just as stripped down as Lahiri’s writing. Many times I found that to be flat and one-dimensional. The characters are not as richly developed but for that one flaw it still does not take away the intensity with which I devoured this story. Once I closed the pages of The Lowland I found I couldn’t stop thinking about these people! I ran over their stories over and over again in attempts to understand everyone’s perspective. That, to me, is the hallmark of a good read.
Rating: 3 Harvest A Novel by Jim Crace 2013 / 224 pages
From Goodreads: In effortless and tender prose, Jim Crace details the unraveling of a pastoral idyll in the wake of economic progress. His tale is timeless and unsettling, framed by a beautifully evoked world that will linger in your memory long after you finish reading.
But it wasn’t effortless prose.
As much as I wanted to like Jim Crace’s Harvest, a novel that is reported to be his last, I often found myself avoiding it. Yes, the book’s prose was beautiful. Yes, it was a tough and interesting premise. Yes, there is no question that Jim Crace is a respected author who has written another novel that is being widely discussed across literary circles. It just was not the book for me.
We Need New Names
A Novel by NoViolet Bulawayo
Narrated by Robin Miles
2013 /9 hours 4 minutes (Audio)
I listened to NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names on audio. Overall I enjoyed this book. I would call it a light-hearted pallet cleanser more than a major literary fiction award winner. The narration was difficult at first but after listening to Robin Miles accent, I became accustomed to it and enjoyed her reading of the book.
The bad thing about listening to an audio book is that one can not take notes and underline passages that stick out. I finished it almost a month ago and I am just now getting around to writing the review. My problem with writing the review is that I just can’t really think of much to write about. (more…)
Rating: 3 (3.5) The Luminaries A Novel by Eleanor Catton 2013 / 848 Pages
Over on the Literary Hoarders site, you may have noticed on our side bar to your right that what I was “Currently Reading” was The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. It must have been showing I was “currently reading” it for well over a month, perhaps longer. For me, straight up and honest, it certainly felt like I was chained to this book for many, many months. Indeed, I easily and readily found a great number of times to put it aside and read other books all the while, four (4!) to be exact, and contemplated two others.