The Booker shortlist is out and I am not a little gutted that David Mitchell’s Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet hasn’t made the cut. Mitchell’s novel is easily the best I have read this year and contains so much more than the historical novel label it has been slapped with suggests. By turns a romance, an historical thriller, a naval engagement yarn, and, during it’s peak, a heist story covering the prep and the heist itself with equal verve. The story is loaded with intrigue and tragedy and pays off in so many ways with so many great characters and set pieces. I am still to read a large number of the longlisted titles, but still can’t imagine reading anything else from the list with such breadth of scope and attention to detail.
I have read Room and while it is an at times beautiful examination of the bond between mother and son forged during horrific circumstances, I couldn’t help think I would be unlikely to return to it. It pulls at your heart strings, has some interesting things to say about how we create the worlds in which our children exist and will definitely have a decent movie adaptation made if the right actors are selected but it just failed to grab me at some level. It is being hailed as a massively important book which I am not convinced about. What it is is a well written, engaging book with a dramatic premise and a wonderful character in the narrator Jack.
The other big surprise omission from the longlist for me is The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas, an already controversial book for some. I have heard Tsiolkas on various podcasts and radio programmes discussing the book and it certainly sounds like one of the more interesting books selected for the longlist. It’s on my bedside table bookshelf so it won’t be too long before I dig in and see if the judges were right to cut it from the six strong shortlist.
Of those remaining, The Finkler Question, The Long Song and C seem the more interesting titles. I’ll have to see how many I can get through before the judges make their final selection.
How about you? Any surprises here?