Pamuk’s The Museum of Innocence [London: Faber & Faber, 2010, translated by Maureen Freely] is another of his intense novels which bring out the contrast between Western and more traditional Turkish values. Like Snow, it is a story of a doomed love affair that, in this case, is played out in the Istanbul of the last quarter of the 20th century.
This is a powerful and surprising novel from a debut writer who now finds herself on this year’s Man Booker short list: Elmet by Fiona Mozley [London: JM Originals, 2017], and she’s only 29! It is also a real page-turner that some readers will work their way through in a couple of days or less. There is no question that it is valid contender for the Prize. We shall see very soon.
There are two debut novels in the Man Booker shortlist this year and History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund [London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2017] is both powerful and beautifully written. The story is narrated by Madeline, looking back from her mid-thirties on a fascinating and out-of-the-ordinary Minnesota childhood. Her parents made their first home in a hippy commune and she was something of a loner in the school she went to, involving a hike through the woods to the road and the nearest township. It seems to be based on Spirit Lake, one of a chain of fishing lakes on the Ripple River in north Minnesota where summers are hot and humid, though short while winters are long and cold. Fridlund coveys a wonderful sense of place.
Le Carré is a master of his craft and brings back fascinating glimpses of George Smiley in A Legacy of Spies [London: Viking, 2017], narrated by his loyal lieutenant, Peter Guillam, now retired and living in his native Brittany but summoned, as only members of the Secret Intelligence Service can be, to answer for innocent blood spilt in that classic Cold War thriller, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.