Monday, October 15, 2012

Favorite Fiction: 2012 Man Booker Prize Contenders

Those of you who have been keeping up with me on BookerMarks already know that 6 other bloggers and I have been closely following the Man Booker Prize nominees since the longlist was announced in July.  The original longlist of 12 titles was eventually whittled down to 6 finalists, and the winner will be announced tomorrow evening.  Of the 12 longlisted titles, I was able to read and review 10, but based on my reviews and ratings, here are Hooked Bookworm's top 5 Man Booker Prize-nominated titles:

5. The Lighthouse by Alison Moore

Alison Moore's debut novel is slow and quiet, but still manages to be intense and haunting.  The Lighthouse follows Futh, a middle-aged Englishman traveling in Germany after a recent separation from his wife.  Throughout the journey,  Futh is constantly reminded of painful and confusing aspects of his past, and these memories are triggered by various scents, sights, and sounds.  Moore's novel is incredibly subtle, but her skillful prose and use of foreshadowing is what makes The Lighthouse a powerfully heartbreaking work of literature.  Read the full review here, and check out what other BookerMarks members had to say about the book here.

4. Skios by Michael Frayn

Let's be honest, the MB Prize longlist is pretty heavy and soul-crushing this year, but Skios offered some much-needed comedic relief.  The novel uses farce, satire, and situational comedy to tell a tale of classic mistaken identity.  When Oliver Fox is mistaken in  Greece airport for a distinguished scientist, Dr Norman Wilfred, Oliver can't help but wonder if his life would improve if he could just be someone else for a few days.  And that's exactly what he does - he pretends to be Dr. Wilfred, while the real Dr. Wilfred is stuck on the island somewhere highly agitated and confused as to why nothing seems to be going his way.  Skios did not make it to the shortlist, but it is definitely worth your time, especially if you could use a good chuckle.  Read the full review here, and check out what other BookerMarks members had to say about the book here.

3. Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil

First of all, this cover is amazing, right?  Jeet Thayil's first novel is an impressive and frightening portrait of addiction.  The story takes place in Bombay, India during the late 20th century and chronicles the lives of several opium/heroin addicts during this time.  Thayil, himself was an opium addict for 2 decades, so who better to tell their harrowing tales?  But, it's important to note that Thayil never judges or condemns the characters because of their lifestyle choices, and Narcopolis is sometimes painful to read, but it's not a cautionary tale. Instead, it offers a multi-faceted, honest, realistic perspective of addiction.  Even if you don't want to read the whole thing, I implore you to at least read the first sentence, which is seven pages of pure, drug-induced poetry.  Read the full review here, and check out what other BookerMarks members had to say about the book here.

2. The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman

Beauman's novel is now one of my all-time favorite books, which is why I am incredibly disappointed that it didn't make it to the shortlist this year.  It is one of the most hilariously clever and absurd books I've ever read.  The Teleportation Accident is about love, war, sex, literature, film, theatre, performance, politics, Hollywood, WWII era Europe, and, well....teleportation of course!  How could this not make it to the shortlist?  It literally has something for everyone!  And the book's narrator is perhaps the most hilariously deplorable and quotable narrators in literary history. Read the full review here, and check out what other BookerMarks members had to say about the book here.

1. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

In 2009, Hilary Mantel won the Man Booker Prize for her historical novel, Wolf Hall, which chronicles Thomas Cromwell's career as a confidant to King Henry VIII as Henry endeavors to annul his marriage to Katherine of Aragon and wed the infamous Anne Boleyn.  In her 2012 sequel, Thomas Cromwell returns as the Master Secretary during a volatile time in British history.  Henry VIII is still without a son and is growing weary of Anne Boleyn while simultaneously falling for Jane Seymour.  Cromwell must tread lightly to ensure the king's happiness while also protecting his own interests and future.  If Mantel wins this year, she will be the first British writer to win the award twice.  I won't be surprised if it wins, because this book is absolutely amazing.  Mantel's prose is unparalleled and her ability to bring history to life will lure in readers and fans of multiple genres.  I actually liked it better than Wolf Hall.  Mantel is currently working on the third installment of the Henry VIII/Thomas Cromwell trilogy, which is entitled The Mirror and the Light. Read the full review of Bring Up the Bodies here and check out what other BookerMarks members had to say about the book here.  And if you're so inclined, feel free to also check out my review of Wolf Hall.

What did you think of the Man Booker Prize contenders?  Which books were you surprised/happy/disappointed to see on the shortlist?  Who do you think will win?  Feel free to address any of these questions in the comments section below.  The waiting is almost over!