Author Topic: Booker 2018  (Read 3279 times)

Booker 2018
« on: July 27, 2018, 11:35:08 PM »
The longlist came out the other day and I've just cut and pasted it from British Hobo's ace blog (you're probably best DMing him if you want the link. It's worth reading though and has a nice opening dedication to the ever-missed Serge.)

Quote
Belinda Bauer (UK) Snap (Bantam Press)

Anna Burns (UK) Milkman (Faber & Faber)

Nick Drnaso (USA) Sabrina (Granta Books)

Esi Edugyan (Canada) Washington Black (Serpent’s Tail)

Guy Gunaratne (UK) In Our Mad And Furious City (Tinder Press)

Daisy Johnson (UK) Everything Under (Jonathan Cape)

Rachel Kushner (USA) The Mars Room (Jonathan Cape)

Sophie Mackintosh (UK) The Water Cure (Hamish Hamilton)

Michael Ondaatje (Canada) Warlight (Jonathan Cape)

Richard Powers (USA) The Overstory (William Heinemann)

Robin Robertson (UK) The Long Take (Picador)

Sally Rooney (Ireland) Normal People (Faber & Faber)

Donal Ryan (Ireland) From A Low And Quiet Sea (Doubleday Ireland)

I've actually already read two, one of which is probably the largest (The Overstory). I've also read Sabrina, the first graphic novel to get a nomination. I'm currently in the middle of a brilliant book (Hernan Diaz's In The Distance) but am looking forward to trying to keep up with BH once that's done.

BritishHobo

  • That is a really reductive impression
Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2018, 11:08:13 PM »
I'm astonished by Snap being on there. No disrespect to Bauer, but it does absolutely nothing that all other crime novels do. A woman disappears, a grizzled cop who bends results turns up, a single suspect is pegged before the book is halfway through, and the investigation, entirely focused on him, ultimately confirms that, yup. Was him. The writing is all telling, short, punchy, action-focused paragraphs. Nothing deeper to the story, nothing really being explored. Again, no disrespect, but I don't think it IS disrespectful. Bauer's not tried to write something subversive and literary, focusing on language and imagery, she's written a gripping crime novel, and fair fucks to her. But why's it there? Lots of mumbling that judge Val McDermid, who shares an agent with Bauer and regularly blurbs her books (she appears on this cover proclaiming it to be 'the best crime novel I've read in a very long time') has been behind this inclusion. Maybe so, but why the other judges?

I'm getting a fucking bad feeling about this longlist. Given the wealth of astonishing graphic novels out there, can Sabrina be worth being the first ever? My brief looks at the other novels have me wary that these judges have gone for shock choices over anything else.

Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2018, 08:11:52 PM »
Not even the best graphic novel in The Beatles. Quite a soulless book and not a patch on, say, Joff Winterheart's Driving Short Distances that also came out this last 12 months.

Yeah, I was distinctly underwhelmed by some of the selections and that thriller looks well shit. Going to start the Ondaatje or Daisy Johnson one tonight. I've actually read DJ's first book (a collection of short stories that I only bought because of it's title - Fen - and the fact that my wife's from East Anglia. Can't remember a thing about it though so may start with the heavier sounding Warlight. If anything comes close to the book I just finished (Hernan Diaz's In The Distance), I hope it wins.

Jerzy Bondov

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Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2018, 08:54:06 AM »
I'm getting a fucking bad feeling about this longlist. Given the wealth of astonishing graphic novels out there, can Sabrina be worth being the first ever? My brief looks at the other novels have me wary that these judges have gone for shock choices over anything else.
I didn't look at the list properly and thought that The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina had got onto the Booker longlist. Actually I wouldn't have minded that.

BritishHobo

  • That is a really reductive impression
Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2018, 07:22:52 PM »
Not even the best graphic novel in The Beatles. Quite a soulless book and not a patch on, say, Joff Winterheart's Driving Short Distances that also came out this last 12 months.

It grew on me, but the sparseness of the art style did seem a bit less purposeful than Chris Ware, say.

Not sure how I'm feeling about the longlist. Of the five I've read so far only this and From a Low and Quiet Sea have felt like they've anything of interest to say about anything. Robin Robertson's verse-novel The Long Take was compelling, but the whole post-war LA thing, bright lights of Hollywood covering up the crime and poverty going on in the streets, just felt a bit... done.

Donal Ryan's book is the only one to really stun me so far. Hope there's several more.

Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2018, 10:16:15 AM »
I finished Warlight last night. It was ok. Strangely lacking in any sense of drama or excitement though, particularly considering the plot. Where's my mild peril? I also found it quite stilted and dry, something that I've noticed with a few other books that involve a middle class narrator looking back at their childhood, and it often felt more like a series of vignettes rather than a novel with an involving plot. Also, a couple of bits, particularly in the last half, were just plain silly. Whilst I enjoyed it and it's undoubtedly well-written, I'm looking forward to something a little richer with my next choice. No quite sure what that'll be yet though, might go for Washington Black.

So far: The Overstory > Warlight > Sabrina

BritishHobo

  • That is a really reductive impression
Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2018, 07:53:51 PM »
Yeah it's a dull kind of genre, isn't it? The spy stuff enlivened it a little but just made me wish the book would confront post-war espionage and the death throes of British imperialism head-on instead of it just being a glimpse through the foggy glass of some mardy fucker's childhood. The most interesting angle to me was Rachel; I would have loved to have seen her perspective on their upbringing, there was a much bigger contrast there.

I did enjoy it more than the glibness here lets on. As you've said though, hoping for something with a bit more urgency and vitality. Which I'm kinda currently getting from The Mars Room.

Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2018, 11:29:28 PM »
How many have you read so far? Are you on your 6th already? I had a headstart with 2 but am still on my 4th.

icehaven

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Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2018, 02:42:40 PM »
I usually only hear about the shortlist but just happened to see this on Askews site today and then this thread, and it did make me think ''so they've finally decided it's time for a graphic novel to make the cut.'' About time, but the cynic in me also suspects there's a bit of diversification for attention/relevance going on too, and suspect Sabrina is largely there to introduce the idea of graphic novels in the Booker, so it'll probably make the shortlist but not win, as that's being reserved for one that's deemed genuinely deserving.

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2018, 02:45:09 PM »
I didn't look at the list properly and thought that The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina had got onto the Booker longlist. Actually I wouldn't have minded that.

Heh, I just downloaded what I thought was the nominated Sabrina, but it turned out to be The Chilling Adventures version. But it was quite fun so I don't regret doing so now!

Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2018, 08:40:18 PM »
I finished Washington Black on the train home tonight. I quite enjoyed it despite it being a cliche filled pot boiler. I take the dust jackets off hardbacks if I'm carrying them to work and back and when I finished WB and put the cover back on, I was really surprised to see that the author was a black woman. The main character was the only noteworthy black character in a novel largely populated by kindly white men and one sexy woman. I think most people could correctly guess what much of the opening section of the book is like as soon as I say it's about a slave on a plantation. It felt to me that the author was going for a Great Expectations kind of thing but I didn't really feel that there was any substance or exceptional writing underneath the vaguely exciting surface. At times it veered towards YAF rather than something supposedly among the best 13 English language novels of the year.

The Overstory > Warlight > Sabrina > Washington Black

BritishHobo

  • That is a really reductive impression
Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2018, 07:19:56 PM »
How many have you read so far? Are you on your 6th already? I had a headstart with 2 but am still on my 4th.

Six done now, aye. I think I've cleared through all the shortest ones now - From a Low and Quiet Sea, Sabrina and The Long Take were easy to dash through - plus I sometimes race a bit too fast for my own good, especially if I'm not enjoying one.

I'm feeling a bit low on the project at the moment, like the novelty's worn off and I don't want to bother next year. I enjoyed The Mars Room a lot, and I loved From a Low and Quiet Sea, but nothing has really shaken me yet. Last year there were so many real impressive entries. Also the newest Private Eye sums it up, talking about how homogenous it is as a list, all UK, America and Canada. I'm bored of American-set novels already, and I've only read three.

Also feeling like my blogs are a bit uninspired and spiritless, just doing 'em just to do 'em. That's more to do with my innate laziness and lack of motivation though.

Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2018, 07:51:40 PM »
For what it's worth, I enjoy reading your blog and look forward to a new review appearing each Monday. The choice itself can't be helping though. As you and many others have said, it's not exactly a great list. Am enjoying the Daisy Johnson book at the moment and look forward to seeing what you think of that.

That's a shame about you not enjoying American set novels, especially with The Overstory looming in the distance.

BritishHobo

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Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #13 on: August 09, 2018, 05:47:47 PM »
Thanks, that's very kind of you!

Wondering if you or anyone can parse this sentence from early in Milkman for me, because I am lost with it. The context is that she's discussing a conversation with an acquaintance who is explaining to her (possibly gashlighting her) why their relationship went from serious back to casual:

Quote
He said he'd suggested, for the sake of whatever it was we did have, that we split up as steady girl and steady boy which, in his opinion, had just been me anyway attempting that 'talking about feelings' which, given my freak-out when we did, given too, I spoke of feelings even less than he spoke of feelings, I mustn't have believed in any of that all along.

Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #14 on: August 09, 2018, 08:06:04 PM »
Ha ha! No, sorry. That's bollocks, isn't it? There's been a few like that (although not as bad) in the Daisy Johnson book I'm currently reading. I'm not sure if I'm thick, it's badly written/ edited or just some clever stylistic device. Whatever it is, it's detracting from what, in parts, is a really good book.

BritishHobo

  • That is a really reductive impression
Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2018, 06:57:59 PM »
Without sounding like a massive twat snob, there have been so many moments this longlist where sentences or sections have seemed a bit sloppy. This could end up being a not-very-positive roundup at the end.

I've gotten more into the swing of Milkmen now, the meandering and neutral language makes a lot more sense - and it's given me a few real bellylaughs - but understanding the purpose doesn't stop it being a relentless read. May take a break and read something else.

Also this week will be my first ever negative blogpost, which is just ech.

Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2018, 08:33:22 PM »
Is it for Snap? I'm not even going to bother with that.

Mister Six

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Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #17 on: August 13, 2018, 02:05:15 PM »
Wondering if you or anyone can parse this sentence from early in Milkman for me

The man has told the woman that he has suggested (to someone else? Or does she have amnesia? Weird wording) that:

- He wants them to stop being in a "steady" relationship;
- This is to protect the relationship they do have (whatever it is);
- In his opinion their "steady" relationship wasn't even real anyway - just her trying to "talk about feelings";
- But she speaks of feelings even less than him;
- And when she does, she freaks out;
- So she must not really believe in talking about feelings (and therefore their whatever-it-is relationship) anyway.

I'm guessing it's supposed to reflect his disordered and desperate attempts to justify ending their relationship by blaming it on her, and is intended to be funny. But it's a hideous, mangled sentence.

BritishHobo

  • That is a really reductive impression
Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #18 on: August 13, 2018, 03:52:03 PM »
Ah yeah I should have specified that part of the set-up is that she apparently forgets they've spoken about the issue (which is ambiguous - it could be gaslighting on his part) - so he's saying he's suggested it to her.

Cheers, that seems to make the most sense. The two bits that really threw me - and still do, even now I know what it's saying - are 'had just been me anyway attempting that 'talking about feelings' which' and 'given my freak-out when we did, given too...' Evéry time you think you have a handle on the sentence or think it's getting to its subject, it veers off. The whole book is like that, and it largely works, but that sentence is an odd'un.

BritishHobo

  • That is a really reductive impression
Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #19 on: August 13, 2018, 03:54:44 PM »
Is it for Snap? I'm not even going to bother with that.

Aye aye. Just baffled.

Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #20 on: August 14, 2018, 08:34:42 PM »
Double review week!

I finished Daisy Johnson's Everything Under last night and was very relieved to do so. Whilst I enjoyed it at first, as it dragged on it became more and more frustrating to the point where I nearly put it aside. Just a mess really. Also made me appreciate Washington Black more, just for telling an engaging story. On BritishHobo's (kind of) recommendation, I've started The Mars Room and have already enjoyed the first 30 pages more than the entire Daisy Johnson book. It's frustrating because it wasn't a bad book and at least it had some ambition but I just found the various devices annoying and they just kept taking me out of the story.

The Overstory> Warlight > Washington Black > Sabrina > Everything Under

BritishHobo

  • That is a really reductive impression
Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #21 on: August 16, 2018, 02:59:16 PM »
Oooh. I'm about twenty per cent in and enjoying it a lot, but already hoping (after Milkman especially) that it's a book in forward motion so that's worrying to hear!

I've also just been to London and bought about ten books LIKE A TWAT. So I'm half-tempted to just pack this shit in and sack off the rest of the list. But then two of the books I bought are Washington Black and The Overstory, so christ knows what I'll do.

Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #22 on: August 17, 2018, 11:20:10 AM »
Don't pack it in! You're nearly there now, surely. You'll steam through WB and The Overstory is decent enough (and very linear/ forward moving). You'll only have three left after those, won't you? I read Sally Rooney's first novel and that was really good so I'm hopeful the one on the list will be a cracker too. The Water Cure looks pretty slim so that shouldn't take you too long. I've still got 7 left although I'm not going to bother with Snap.

Got about 30 pages of The Mars Room left and I've really enjoyed it so far. It's felt a little derivative in parts but that's probably an issue inherent with this type of book.

Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #23 on: August 21, 2018, 11:09:51 PM »
Just finished From A Low And Quiet Sea and I really hope it wins. The final few pages in particular are perfectly written, not showy but with a real precision and clarity to them. I'll be thinking about this book for a long time.

From A Low And Quiet Sea > The Overstory > The Mars Room > Warlight > Washington Black > Sabrina > Everything Under

BritishHobo

  • That is a really reductive impression
Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #24 on: August 22, 2018, 12:06:57 AM »
You convinced me - I probably genuinely would have just packed it in otherwise. But I've finished Everything Under - enjoyed it, but as you say, it feels a bit sluggish in its second half, and I'm not sure it finds much of interest to say by updating Oedipus, unlike last year's Home Fire which felt like its take on Antigone was vital and relevant - and I'm now coming up halfway through The Water Cure, which is simple but brilliant so far.

Just finished From A Low And Quiet Sea and I really hope it wins. The final few pages in particular are perfectly written, not showy but with a real precision and clarity to them. I'll be thinking about this book for a long time.

From A Low And Quiet Sea > The Overstory > The Mars Room > Warlight > Washington Black > Sabrina > Everything Under

They really are, aren't they? The way it all comes together is perfect, and perfect in its structure.

Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #25 on: August 22, 2018, 11:11:06 AM »
Yeah, it was so great. Such brilliant writing but didn't feel forced or heavy. Will definitely try and pick up one of his other books. 'Interesting' that the information in the first paragraph is also a significant part of The Overstory. I'm hoping to start The Water Cure this afternoon. Was going to do Milkman next but that sentence put me off!

When's the shortlist out? I'm surprised that you rated Sabrina so highly; I'd definitely put it behind Warlight, as frustrating a read as that was.

BritishHobo

  • That is a really reductive impression
Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #26 on: August 22, 2018, 11:16:49 PM »
I think it's more a sign of how little most of the list has done it for me than it is a sign of it being great. I really liked the fact that it dealt with the seriousness of online conspiracy bollocks, but for the most part it's just that all the novels below it have left me largely cold.

The Water Cure though. Boy. Fucking hell.

BritishHobo

  • That is a really reductive impression
Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #27 on: August 22, 2018, 11:22:13 PM »
The shortlist is late September I think, around the 20th. I'd definitely encourage you to give Milkman a try. It's a stodge of a narrative but that sentence is far and away the worst it gets, and so far I've found it to be one of the only books on the longlist to feel like it's attempting something thematically relevant in the language and the way it's written.

In Our Mad and Furious City next. I know nothing about this.

Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #28 on: August 23, 2018, 11:58:03 AM »
The Water Cure though. Boy. Fucking hell.

I've just finished the first section and since the first page I haven't been able to stop thinking about/ comparing it to the film Dogtooth. I might well be barking up the wrong tree though.

I'm doing Milkman next and then just have OM&FC, the Sally Rooney one and that one in verse left (I think).

BritishHobo

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Re: Booker 2018
« Reply #29 on: August 24, 2018, 10:08:24 PM »
edit: oops