Philip Roth has done more than enough to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature; an award to mark not a single book but a lifetime’s contribution to literature. But, once again, he hasn’t been given it and, once again, a rash of articles have appeared deploring this and recalling the tetchy comments journalists have coaxed out of him in the past on this subject. Patrick Modiano is a very fine writer and I hope he doesn’t spend all the money in one shop but, like Graham Greene, Roth must wonder if the judges or their advisers are trying to tell him something.
It’s that time of year again when Man Booker judges will pick one from six and award the prize, which I think should go to Richard Flanagan for his moving and gripping novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North.
Think of Germinal, Thérèse Raquin, La Bête Humaine, L'Oeuvre, Au Bonheur des Dames (Ladies' Paradise), La Terre and now L'Argent (Money). But why do I say now when it was published in 1891 and an English translation appeared in 1894?
Hilary Mantel’s first in her planned trilogy of Tudor historical novels, Wolf Hall, is a reading challenge and a literary masterpiece. The reader has to tune in to the use of the historic present tense and to become used to identifying ‘he’ as Thomas Cromwell; for a few short years the most powerful man in England after the king. The effort will be repaid many times over.
Oklahoma is one of the almost mythical Mid-Western states of the Union, running down through the Dakotas, Nebraska and Kansas above, and only Texas below. The very word ‘OOOOklahoma’ starts music ringing in your ears; but Tulsa? Hands up anyone who’s been there! But reading Benjamin Lytal’s debut novel, A Map of Tulsa, [London: And Other Stories, 2014] you could begin to feel it might be worth the detour.