Skip to main content

Booker 2015 - Beach Reads - Worthing

There's no better opportunity of breaking a blogging hiatus than with the announcement of one of literature's finest prize shortlists.

The shortlist for the Man Booker Prize 2015 was announced this morning:

Marlon James - A Brief History of Seven Killings (Jamaica)
Tom McCarthy - Satin Island (UK)
Chigozie Obioma - The Fisherman (Nigeria)
Sunjeev Sahota - The Year of the Runaways (UK)
Anne Tyler - A Spool of Blue Thread (US)
Hanya Yanagihara - A Little Life (US)

I've read not one. Nor have I read anything ever written by any of them. Anne Tyler has a long established reputation in the US, and has been championed often by Jonathan Franzen. Franzen's new book, Purity, is on my To Read list. I figure I might as well get it, as I have read The Corrections, and Freedom (and How to be Alone - non-fiction).

The winner will be announced on 13 October. 

I haven't read an awful lot recently. I have reviewed Nicola Wilson's (Reading University) new book on the representations of Home in British working-class fiction, which should be in the Times Literary Supplement in due course. Wilson's tome is a very welcome addition to the small list of such books that look at 'working-class fiction'. 

Whilst on holiday in Cyprus in August, I read The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop, author of the notable debut The Island, which I'm currently reading. The Sunrise didn't seem like my type of read - but Hislop writes clearly and has a very keen sense of pace and I had galloped through it in no time. The Sunrise is the name of a hotel in Famagusta, once dubbed the Cannes of Cyprus, but the 1974 civil war between supporters of 'enosis' (unification with Greece) and those against it, as well as the Turkish Cypriots, effectively closed it all down. And now Famagusta is little more than a ghost town, where nature has wrapped itself around the neglected buildings, many of which were the height of grandeur. Famagusta is next to capital, Nicosia. We visited Nicosia but gave up walking to 'no man's land', the stretch separating 'Turkish' Cyprus and 'Greek' Cyprus because it was so hot - ten degrees hotter than where we stay, in Paphos. Hislop is very good at revealing the issues at play and also portraying the friendships between both Turk and Greek Cypriots - whether they are co-workers or neighbours. And The Island, described as a 'beach read with a heart' again focusses on that part of the world, this time Crete and the former leper colony of Spinalonga, or Kaylydon. 

Aside from waiting for a review to appear in the TLS, I've also provided a piece on Mary Burns and Friedrich Engels for socialist e-magazine, Monthly Review. Monthly Review hasn't yet posted a piece on new Labour party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, but the New Yorker has, weirdly declaring that he makes Bernie Sanders look like Ted Cruz! I love the New Yorker, one of the only monthly titles I now read, particularly for its short fiction, but it sometimes misreads. It recently referred to Dream Land, Banksy's dystopic theme park as representing the decline of the British seaside town! By the way, I now live in a British seaside town - ten miles from Brighton - Worthing. Yes, it's 90 minutes drive from London, and London will always be Home - but for now Worthing is where 'we' (me and the hubby) live. There seems to be next to no literary culture here - but that's a generalisation because I haven't yet sought out any culture beyond the cinema. The good thing, living just a road away from the sea front, is the salty sea air and the stronger than usual wind, and more hours of sunshine! It's not your usual seaside town - more of an ordererly yet growing coastal town - Brighton's reclusive cousin. It really is growing, though. House building on the outskirts is going on at a rate of knots, as is inward investment - and house prices. But whether it can retain its quiet charm remains to be seen.



Popular posts from this blog

Who was Mary Burns?

On 7th January 1863 Mary Burns was found dead from a suspected heart attack. She was 43 years old. Since her death Mary has received barely any attention despite the fact that she spent over twenty years as the common-law wife of Friedrich Engels, one of the world’s most influential thinkers and the co-founder of Marxism.

Born in 1822, Mary was the oldest surviving child of textile dyer and factory operative, Michael Burns, and Mary Conroy, Irish immigrants from Tipperary. Mary’s parents had married at St. Patrick’s in an area known casually as Irish Town, one of few Catholic churches in Manchester at that time. The year of Mary’s birth and her infancy were significant in that Manchester was still dealing with the aftermath of the event that became known as the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, a peaceful protest of the working-classes on the site of St. Peter’s Fields in which several people were killed and hundreds injured. The Massacre occurred when magistrates, alarmed at the size of t…

Booker Shortlist announced

It's been a while... I know. Dog walking on the Downs, a bit of theatre, a bit of baking, a bit of writing etcetera etcetera. I also managed to read two complete books in the past month, which I was so pleased about. I had not read a whole book for about a year. The first was A Lie About My Father by Scottish poet/writer, John Burnside; a very well written memoir about father and son, but like all memoirs, some unreliability I felt. Poignant and tragic in equal measure. Then my husband returned from Cyprus (too hot for me this time of year, I can barely cope with England!) with Sebastian Faulks's Birdsong. He loved it. And then I read it and also loved it. I had originally picked it up several years ago but didn't get beyond Amiens, where the first section is set, but was really glad I did this time around. Another incredibly well written book in the style of a good Victorian! I felt a bit unsure about bits of Elizabeth, in the later section, but I have never learnt so muc…

Good Canary

Forgot to mention that we went to see Good Canary at Kingston's Rose Theatre last week. Star role played by the brilliantly intense Freya Mavor, who plays a speed addict. It's directed by John Malkovich - his UK's theatre directorial debut. Will try and post more about it later.