At some point, early in The Lowland, the narrator comments on lovely looking pastries and delicacies spotted with flies in a Calcutta shop window. This is, I think, an apt way to describe this novel. Life, at a distance, can look lovely, but when you get closer, you can see all its flaws. And sometimes, those flaws, don’t even really effect the inherent value of that life. But we will judge ourselves anyway.
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.
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…
The Massive (The Kills: Book Two)
A Novel by Richard House
2013 / 311 Pages
I shoulda learned to play the guitar
The Kills is a 2013 Man Booker Prize nominated volume from Richard House which is comprised of four stand-alone novels. The Massive is the second of these novels.
It would be bad enough if the only problem facing Rem Gunnersen with regards to his self-owned and operated business was that of financial ruin. Yes, he’s drowning in debt. Yes, he’s desperate for money. Yes, he’s staring the very real possibility of bankruptcy in the face. Problems of cash flow, difficult as they can be, are fixable in a multitude of ways. Having to recover from any damage done to his professional reputation however is something that would prove to be a much more arduous task. At the start of The Massive, Rem finds himself in the unenviable position of having to deal with both issues, one as a direct consequence of the other.
A Novel by Jim Crace
2013 /208 pages
Within the first few pages, I wanted to toss this book and yell “Boring! Boring!” The latter I did. Quite a lot, actually. But, it’s not a large book, only 208 pages, and I felt I owed it to my BookerMark kin to keep at it. And, I’m glad I did. After a spell, I fell into the cadence, which mirrors ye olde time England quite well. Harvest is not modern, in setting or in style. Though the themes are timeless; being an outsider, mass group-think, violence, loyalty, to name a few.
A Tale for the Time Being
A Novel by Ruth Ozeki
2013 / 432 Pages
Ruth Ozeki’s third novel A Tale for the Time Being, is a meta-fictional work that features an alternate version of the author as one of the story’s two main protagonists. When Ruth finds a Hello Kitty lunch box washed up on the beach near her home it sets her off on the path of an amazing adventure. Inside the box are several items, the most revelatory of which is the diary of a suicidal sixteen-year-old Japanese girl named Nao. Desperate to unlock the truth and determine what became of the girl, Ruth begins reading.
The novel starts out with this rather straight-forward idea, but somewhere along the way it begins to transform into a fascinating piece about writer’s block and the constant push and pull relationship that exists between an author and their readership. Oh, and it also features a surprising amount of dog balls and cat ass. We’ve sprinkled some quotes throughout this review for your … enjoyment? Look, there’s one now.