Author: Mike

2013 Shortlisted: The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri #4

The LowlandRating: 4.5
The Lowland
A Novel by Jhumpa Lahiri
2013 /352 Pages

The scope of Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland is epic: four generations of family through five decades in India and America.

This could be a recipe for disaster, as characters become truncated and neglected in favor of pushing the tale forward. Happily this is not the case here. We become intimate with all of Lahiri’s characters: the brothers Subhash and Udayan, their parents, their (!) wife Guari, their (!) daughter Bela, and Bela’s daughter Meghna.


Why it Will Win: TransAtlantic by Colum McCann

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.

Today, Mike justifies why Colum McCann’s TransAtlantic has the wings to win it all.

Much of what I have to say about TransAtlantic is covered in my review here, but in this series we have a specific goal — to explain Why It Will Win.

Awkward: I don’t think TransAtlantic will win. The second half of the book is a bit of a slog (see review), and it pulls down a story that starts out fast-paced and exciting.

As a result, allow me to focus not on Why It Will Win, but on Why It WOULD Win (if it did).


2013 Longlisted: TransAtlantic by Colum McCann #2

TransatlanticRating: 3.5

A Novel by Colum McCann
2013 / 304 Pages

TransAtlantic is a sprawling, highly ambitious novel, spanning three centuries and numerous characters.

We start with great excitement, as a pair of (real-life historically) adventurers set off to fly their plane from Canada to Ireland.

We move on to a visit to Ireland by abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

We visit with Senator George Mitchell (also real) as he tried to help broker peace in Northern Ireland. (more…)

2013 Longlisted: The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín #4

The_Testament_of_MaryRating: 1.5
The Testament of Mary

A Novel by Colm Tóibín
2012 / 96 Pages

Where to start. Maybe in the middle? That seems appropriate for a review of this (thankfully!) very slim book, as it too starts in the middle.

The story of Mary is not a direct cultural touchstone for me, but I know the basics. And Tóibín here seems to be going for a sort of AU* version of the story we know.

Was Jesus the son of God, or was he a jerk who didn’t listen to his mother? His poor, poor, suffering mother.


Book Review: 2012 Shortlisted: Alison Moore’s The Lighthouse (Review #6)

Rating: 4.0
The Lighthouse
A Novel by Alison Moore
2012 / 192 Pages

In Alison Moore’s The Lighthouse, we meet Futh, an Englishman on vacation in Germany. Futh has been thrown out by his wife. Or to be more exact, she has rented him a flat and moved him into it.

This sums up Futh. He is that most clichéd of Englishman, the meek little man hanging on for dear life. I believe it was Pink Floyd who sang “Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.”

Book Review: 2012 Shortlisted: Deborah Levy’s Swimming Home (Review #7)

Rating: 3.5
Swimming Home
A Novel by Deborah Levy
2012/157 pages (115 on the Nook)

I just finished reading Swimming Home, a mere four hours short of tonight’s podcast recording, and a few hours short (I think?) of the announcement of the Man Booker Prize winner.

As others have said, it is a slight book. Slight in thickness, but not necessarily in depth. There is a whole lot going on here. We have a beautiful, often-naked, poet-stalker (the worst of all stalkers, as you know). A newly menstruating teenager. An awful couple. An awfuller couple. A stoned caretaker. An an awesome old lady whom I liked most of all.