Over the course of the next eight days, leading up the Man Booker shortlist announcement on September 10th, each one of our eight bloggers will champion a different nominated title and explain Why it Will Win the coveted prize.
Today, Aaron explains why he’s 100% certain that Richard House’s The Kills will be crowned the victor on October 15th.
In honor of this year’s “Booker Dozen,” I proudly present 13 solid reasons why Richard House’s novel should easily “kill” the competition.
1. Does that official headshot look to you like the picture of a guy that takes losing in stride? Hell no, he looks like he’s going to rip each of the judges faces off slowly using only his bare hands and then feed them each to Will Self’s dog if he doesn’t win. Winner: Fear factor.
2. Weighing in at 913 pages, The Kills is the longest of this year’s nominees. Take that Eleanor Catton’s 848 page almost-long-enough-but-not-quite tome The Luminaries. Oh Eleanor, your book may be fat, and your characters may be all be opium addicts and whores, but you only have a measly four dead people in there. The Kills body count effortlessly reaches double digits in no time. Explosions, dismemberments, kidnappings, train accidents, bludgeonings. These are a but a few of Richard House’s favorite things. Winner: Highest body count to page ratio.
3. Did I mention that The Kills is 913 pages in length? It’s also 4 freaking books combined into one epic masterpiece! Hey Mister Colm Toibin, just what the fuck were you doing while Richard House was writing his ass off? Oh, you wrote ONE 191 page “novella” called The Testament of Mary about what a crappy person Jesus’ mom was. Good for you. It’s about time someone called that woman out on her shit, no? House on the other hand wrote a complex, socio-political conspiracy thriller that doesn’t give a rats ass about anyone who lived over 2,000 years ago. From crooked governments to corrupt companies to flawed human beings, no one in House’s book is clean and no one is ever safe. Like or hate his take on the world inside the world in which we live, the chances are pretty high that your new favorite curse word won’t be House. Say it with me: TOIBIN! Fun, right? Winner: Offensively awesome and not awesomely offensive.
4. Almost English? What a load of crap! How about almost Turkish, Iraqish, Iranish, American, British, French, German, Greek and Italian? Spanning the length of the globe, you’ll be exposed to people from a myriad of nationalities within the pages of The Kills. Don’t even get me started about a book that can’t even manage to juggle just a single one. Almost = not quite. Winner: Globetrotting extraordinaire.
5. The Lowland is so good that no one is allowed to actually read it…at least not yet. House’s book actually exists. You can hold it. You can read it. You can enjoy it. Winner: Not vaporware.
6. In A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki spends an unbelievable amount of time talking about the size and color of cat testicles and how these animals love to examine their own assholes (her words, not mine.) House? Almost as quickly as they are introduced, the felines in his book are all viciously mutilated and murdered. No puckered assholes. No furry white balls. Just death. Here kitty, kitty, kitty! Winner: Say no to kitty porn.
7. Unexploded is a World War II novel about a woman that’s “struggling to fall in love.” Yeah, I’ve never read one of those before either! House’s novel features actual, honest to goodness explosions and a struggling couple that gets married, then gets divorced, then remarries right before one of them kicks the bucket thanks to health issues he developed during his time working in Iraq under unsafe conditions. You want to do war and love and depression and death properly? Don’t be all half-assed and unoriginal about it. Provide us both cheeks please. Winner: Both physically and emotionally explosive.
8. In addition to its horrible chick-lit like cover, Eve Harris’ novel The Marrying of Chani Kaufman is chock full of tons of difficult to read Yiddish words. On the plus side however, it does come complete with a helpful glossary at the end. The Kills? It don’t need no stinking glossary. Instead, House’s novel comes complete with a list of links to supplementary online content like audio phone messages and video presentations. Winner: דרייַ דימענשאַנאַל
9. When Elizabeth Zandile Tshele needed a new pen name she picked NoViolet Bulawayo. Then she wrote We Need New Names, a novel about a 1o-year-old girl named Darling who escapes her violent existence in Zimbabwe to make a new life for herself in America with her aunt. Are child narrators extremely irritating? YES! Does this one at least possess some super powers? NO! In House’s novel the only child that appear is NOT a narrator AND better still, he makes up for even existing in the first place with his steadfast belief that he can control objects using only his mind. Winner: The only thing super about child narrators is how annoying they are.
10. In a shameless attempt to sway the judges, Jim Crace has publicly stated that Harvest will be his final novel. Wikipedia describes it as follows: “Harvest tells the story of a remote English village as economic progress disrupts pastoral idyll following the Enclosure Act.” ZzzzzzzzzZ…I’m sorry, I guess I dozed off there for a moment. Were you saying something? House’s novel is an suspenseful tale of murder, conspiracy, betrayal, fraud, love, and war that will keep you up at night, frantically turning the pages as you try to fit the pieces of his massive jigsaw puzzle together. Winner: Epic boredom killer, not epically boring.
11. Tash Aw earned a Booker nomination for his novel Five Star Billionaire on his strength at describing the booming city of Shanghai and the lives of several people who try to build a new lives for themselves there. Gary the pop-star, Phoebe the factory girl, Justin the real estate agent, and Yinghui the poet all are seeking to reinvent themselves in “comic” and “unhurried” ways. The Kills? It’s a a book that blurs identities to the extreme. Who is the real Sutler? Does he even exist in the first place? Who is Tomas Berens? Who was murdered in the basement of an Italian palazzo? These are all questions you’ll ask yourself. You want to meet billionaires? Meet Paul Geezler. You want to meet people struggling to make better lives for themselves? Meet Cathy and Rem Gunnersen. You want to visit foreign cities? Travel to Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Naples and Chicago to name a few. Winner: Rich in setting, characters, and plot.
12. [The number of times The Spinning Heart was rejected for publication (47)] + [The number of characters narrating in the novel (21)] + [The number of letters in Donal Ryan’s name (8)] + [The length of the novel in pages (160)] + [The number of times the word “his” appears in the text (546)] + [The number of 5-star reviews the novel has received on Goodreads to date (57)] + [The number of friends someone named “Donal Ryan” that I found on Facebook currently has (74)] = The number of pages in Richard House’s The Kills (913). Winner: Do the math.
13. TransAtlanic by Colum McCann features two pilots armed with a mailbag and a mail order plane who try to become the first men ever to complete a, well, transatlantic flight. House? The Kills features broken down tanks, planes, and trucks being destroyed at giant burn pits in Iraq. Winner: Burn the future.