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.
One can't read them all, alas. The number of good books is almost infinite and one's own time is not. I cannot be like Mallarmé and say La chair est triste, hélas ! et j'ai lu tous les livres. This is why I am always grateful when I trip over a book I might not otherwise have read. I'm talking about Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively
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.
Designers are taught that to bring two opposing colours closer together you need to add some of each colour into the other; which is just what Ruth Ozeki does in her fascinating, Booker short-listed novel A Tale for the Time Being. A ‘novelist’ with an American father and Japanese mother finds a diary and notebook washed up on a lonely island in British Columbia and written by a Japanese girl who spent her early years living in California. So the writer, called ‘Ruth’, can understand many of the Japanese aspects of the girl’s account of her troubled life and, fortunately for us, the girl, Naoko, writes in English. A bond is established; not just between writer and diarist but between them both and the reader.