We Need New Names A Novel by NoViolet Bulawayo 2013 / 298 pages
Darling is a 10 year old girl from Zimbabwe. She and her family have been forced out of their home and now live in a shanty town (called “Paradise”). Her father has gone off to South Africa (to find work/money) and her mother is trying to scrape together what she can so they don’t starve while he is away. Since there is no longer a school to attend, Darling and her gang of friends (Bastard, Chipo, Godknows, Sbho and Stina) are free to spend their days waiting for the NCO truck to arrive with supplies and gifts. In the meantime they hunt for guavas, play intricate games (find bin Ladin, Country Game, War Lord) and get into mischief in the “white” section of town all while avoiding the men with the machetes. They are trying to make the best of what they have but it is hard when they have known a different life– before the bulldozers came; before 11 year old Chipo got a baby in her belly.
Rating: 3.5 The Luminaries A Novel by Eleanor Catton 2013 / 848 pages
The Luminaries was a looooooooong book– a whopping 848 pages, at least 20 main characters and a complex structure featuring the phases of the moon, the alignment of the planets and the signs of the zodiac. It took me a while to read this one. There was detail up the wazoo– every ship in New Zealand was mentioned by name, every building or tent was described in full, every dirty fingernail was picked, every speck of gold dust was included as a main character– but essentially this was a pure mystery novel with a little bit of “magical realism” thrown in.
Rating: 2.0 Harvest A Novel by Jim Crace 2013 / 224 pages
I feel like I have been transported back in time! It is 1987 and Mrs. Edmunson has assigned us Harvest by Jim Crace for grade 12 novel study. “You must read it so try to enjoy it” she says. “Come on! There are some great things in here! There is violence and witches and even magic mushrooms!”
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, Jackie expounds on why adding just a touch of cat ass and a smidge of dog balls to her novel helped Ruth Ozeki secure an easy win.
Rating: 4 The Testament of Mary A Novel by Colm Toibin 2012 / 96 Pages
What did Jesus’ mum think about his son of God routine? Well, according to Colm Toibin’s Man Booker Prize nominated novella The Testament of Mary– she didn’t really think very highly of it all. What a waste of a life! And those friends of his!? Oy vey…
Five Star Billionaire A Novel by Tash Aw 2013 / 400 Pages
I read the synopsis for this one about two weeks before I started reading thinking that a humorous look at rich Asians in Singapore would be just the thing to ease me into this year’s BookerMarks project. As I got to about the 3rd or 4th chapter (still waiting for the hilarity to kick in) I realized this wasn’t the book I thought it was (Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan). Five Star Billionaire is actually a kind of boring book about depressing Malaysian immigrants pretending to be people they are not living in Shanghai. Oops! My bad!!