Two books from the Man Booker list

>> Sunday, September 27, 2015

Quick catch-up post covering two books from my Man Booker prize readalong. Not great successes with me, I'm afraid.

TITLE: The Fishermen
AUTHOR: Chigozie Obioma

The Fishermen is one of the six books that made it through to the shortlist. It tells the story of four boys living in a small Nigerian town in the 1990s. When their strict father is sent by his employers to work in a distant town and leaves the boys with their mother, they take the opportunity to skip school and go fishing in the forbidden river. And that's when the trouble starts.

I'd heard nothing but good things about this book. Everyone seems to love it. Me? Not so much. I just didn't connect with the writing or the characters. I was interested in what it sounded like the story was about, but I didn't really like how it was told, and the characters annoyed me. I read maybe about 40%, but that was enough for me. Also, I'll be completely honest: if I'd picked this up right at the beginning of my Man Booker reading, I might have persevered for a bit longer. However, I came to it close to the end, and knowing I still had 2 bricks to read, I didn't see the point in keeping on with something I wasn't enjoying.


TITLE: Sleeping on Jupiter
AUTHOR: Anuradha Roy

Sleeping on Jupiters is a very disjointed book. There are three story threads. There's a young woman, Nomi, coming back from Europe to the temple town where she was brought up, trying to find the ashram that was the site of her abuse as a young girl. She's ostensible there to work with a guy called Suraj on a documentary. There's the three old ladies taking a last trip together to the seaside, two of them worried that the third is slowly succumbing to dementia. There's Badal, a local guide, sexually obsessed by a young man. I think these threads are supposed to come together in some way, but they just don't. I have no idea why they were together in one book or what the point of them was.

I also didn't think any of the threads were particularly good on their own. I somewhat enjoyed the story of the old ladies, but things just fizzled out completely. The other two threads were basically predictably dreary stories peopled by characters who did not behave with any internal coherence. I did make it to the end with this one, mainly because the beginning was quite promising, but I wish I'd abandoned it as soon as it started unraveling.



Barb in Maryland 28 September 2015 at 22:54  

I am always happy to read your Man Booker list reviews, as the books being considered for the award are so far outside my usual reading habits. But every now and then (as in once every couple of years), something will grab my interest.
Just not these two books...
So, thank you for your efforts.

Rosario 2 October 2015 at 10:36  

Yeah, I'm not surprised! ;-)

I'm almost done with my reading now, and this has not been a bumper year. You might enjoy Anne Tyler's A Spool of Blue Thread, I think. That's been my favourite so far.

meljean brook 8 October 2015 at 06:18  

I'll second that. I love these reviews. There always ends up being at least a couple that I end up getting, even if it takes a while for me to get around to reading them. Before, I'd buy the eventual winner and take a look at the finalists, but it never really felt urgent. Your reviews make me far more interested in some of these books than I might have been otherwise.

Rosario 24 October 2015 at 11:37  

Oops, just saw this comment; must have missed the notification! Anyway, thanks, Meljean. I'm glad to hear that. I'm reading more and more outside the romance genre these days, so I always wonder if people who originally came to the blog for the romance reviews are interested...

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