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Man Booker Prize Shortlist 2014

I flip opened the newspaper yesterday and came to know of the shortlist announced by the Man Booker Prize this year.

I must say a lot of the books on the longlist and shortlist, pique me with a renewed interest than I could possibly have for Man Booker Prize. I have 4 out of the 6 shortlists besides “J” and “How to be Both“. Here’s what The Guardian said and what I think on my first impression:

The shortlist and what the Guardian said about them:

Joshua Ferris, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

To Rise Again At a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris
“To Rise Again at a Decent Hour at times struggles to bear the weight of its conceit (digressions into the history of the Amalekites confound after a while), but at its best it is enormously impressive: profoundly and humanely engaged with the mysteries of belief and disbelief, linguistically agile and wrongfooting, and dismayingly funny in the way that only really serious books can be.”

– I read a third of the book and concluded that I don’t have the same sense of humour as Ferris, nonetheless I’ll try to finish the book and see what I think about it.

Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

“One would notice, if not swept along by the tale, that the allocation of time to characters, the certainty of the narration, the confidence to pause and then lunge on,
to play with time, are all bravura accomplishments. We don’t notice, though. Flanagan is too good to let us.”

– I began reading this yesterday on the train and the opening was appealing. I love all books set in the South East Asia, Thailand and Burma with WWII historical spin on the Burma Death Railway, it sounds intriguing. Last year a New Zealander won the prize, not sure if this is a deliberate attempt by the judges to be as “international” as possible and have chosen a diverse range of authors from around the world in this shortlist.

Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
“Many a novel has devoted itself to exploring variations of Larkin’s lament about what mums and dads do to their kids. But if any other book has done it as exhilaratingly as the achingly funny, deeply serious heart-breaker that is Fowler’s 10th novel, and made it ring true for the whole of mankind, I’ve yet to read it.”

– I finished reading this a few days ago. Although I enjoy some parts and heart breaking at the other, I think the melancholy was dragged on too long at the end….. still, I am glad to see this on the short list.


Howard Jacobson, JJ by Howard Jacobson

“To say J is unlike any other novel Jacobson has written would be misleading: the same ferocious wit runs throughout, while the minutiae of male-female relations are as sharply portrayed as ever. Nevertheless, the comparisons that will inevitably be made with earlier dystopian visions – George Orwell, of course, and the Aldous Huxley of Brave New World, but also Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We – will not be difficult to justify.”

– Twice shortlisted, one as winner. It interests me that I have never read Howard Jaconson’s books before, maybe I should now.

Neel Mukherjee, The Lives of Others

The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee

“The cast is huge and the reader spends time, at one point or another, with most of them. It takes a while to get to know all the men, women and children, but the story is always gripping, and there are various time-bombs that suddenly change the way we see the book’s whole world.”

– I have always wanted to read Neel Mukherjee’s “A Life Apart”, suppose with this shortlist Mukherjee has risen to prominence in the literary world.

Ali Smith, How to be both

How to Be Both by Ali Smith
“There is no doubt that Smith is dazzling in her daring. The sheer inventive power of her new novel pulls you through, gasping, to the final page.”

– I don’t think Ali Smith’s writing agree with me. Since There But For The, I am not sure if I like to read another book from Ali Smith. I may be wrong.


The winner will be announced on 14 October, until then what do you think about the shortlist, would you read any of these before the winner is announced on the 14th October?


About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books. Well, lately I do other stuff.


6 thoughts on “Man Booker Prize Shortlist 2014

  1. I enjoyed The Lives of Others but the other novels don’t really appeal to me.

    Posted by A Little Blog of Books and Other Stuff | September 10, 2014, 4:22 pm
    • Hi there,
      Glad you like The Lives of Others, I read Lowland too and wonder if this is another run of the mill Naxalite novel too so I was reluctant to pick it up. I see that you have read the “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” I have much to say about that one after reading it early this week. I’ll be hopping by your blog when I have the chance. Thanks for dropping by!

      Posted by JoV | September 12, 2014, 8:56 am
  2. This is awful, but I don’t feel any inclination to read any of these. I loved We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves, and I skipped the rest of the books on this list because they didn’t appeal to me. At least I know which one I’ll be rooting for!

    Posted by Jenny @ Reading the End | September 11, 2014, 1:28 am
  3. I just could not get into “Completely Besides Ourselves.” It was like being in some echoing chamber and hearing all these words thrown at you, but because of the echoes it sounds disjointed and nothing makes sense.

    Posted by SoulMuser | September 11, 2014, 2:29 pm
    • Soul,
      It would seem that way. I finished “We are all Completely Besides Ourselves” and it does feel that way most of the time but the story line is interesting enough to make it want to finish it.

      Posted by JoV | September 12, 2014, 8:59 am

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Ratings Defined

0 = Abandon the book after first chapter

1 = Waste of paper, we will see what the environmentalist say about this!

2 = Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do

2.5 = An average book, easily forgettable.

3 = A good read.

3.5 = A good entertaining read, a page-turner

4 = So glad that I read the book, a book with substance and invaluable for future reference

4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

Books Read

JoV's bookshelf: read
Hold Tight
The Fault in Our Stars
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Thief
Catching Fire
A Tale for the Time Being
Into the Darkest Corner
The Liars' Gospel
Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
A Virtual Love
The Fall of the Stone City

JoV's favorite books »
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Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

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