Why it Will Win: The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin

Why_It_Will_WinOver 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.

So as you probably already guessed from my review of The Testament of Mary, I have very mixed feelings about the book.  While I was certainly impressed with Tóibín’s attempt to present the mother of Christ in a more versatile and realistic light, I was ultimately disappointed by the one-dimensional Mary that emerges.  But even so, here are a few reasons why The Testament of Mary night take home the Man Booker Prize this year:

First of all, the book was surrounded by controversy long before it was published.  While many critics were impressed with Tóibín’s bravery in tackling such a sensitive historical figure (including Bookermarks members Jackie and Aaron), others were horrified at the notion of Mary as an angry, heartbroken mother who questions her own faith.  I wasn’t personally offended by this notion, but it definitely created quite a buzz around the book.  And we all know that even Man Booker judges are not impervious to such buzz.

Second, Tóibín is an established literary force, and there’s a good reason why.  Tóibín is an testamentamazing writer who so fluidly and succinctly targets the essence of character.  His prose is phenomenal, which is quite remarkable considering there is very little of it in this slim, 90 page novel.  Considering its length and critical coverage, The Testament of Mary might be the most accessible book on the longlist.

And finally, we already know that Man Booker judges adore historical fiction – especially when such fiction targets a controversial figure.  Need proof?  Hilary Mantel has won the Booker twice for her portrayal of Thomas Cromwell, aid to Henry VIII.  Cromwell wasn’t beloved like Mother Mary, but the concept is the same.

So while I’m personally hoping that The Testament of Mary doesn’t take home the prize, the book has a very strong chance.  What are your thoughts?  Have you read The Testament of Mary?  Who do you think will take home the prestigious prize this year?


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