The Booker & Pulitzer Fiction Prize Winners: My Stats, Likes & Dislikes

This month two books were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction – Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead and Hernan Diaz’s Trust. This got me thinking about this award and the book awards in general. Though I do not actively follow the Booker or Pulitzer awards, I have decided to find out how many books I read that won these prestigious prizes and what I thought about them. My results below (two separate columns for each award) show that I have only read a tiny fraction of the actual winners (14 Pulitzer for Fiction and 13 Booker prize winners), but from these I did enjoy and agree on the merits of many. The Booker Prize is awarded for “the best sustained work of fiction written in English and published in the UK and Ireland“, and I guess from the winners, that the (unusual) plot structure and the beauty of language are quite important with regards to this prize. The Pulitzer Prize is awarded for “for distinguished fiction published during the year by an American author, preferably dealing with American life“, so possibly, the power of the message/theme would be as important as the writing.

Continue reading “The Booker & Pulitzer Fiction Prize Winners: My Stats, Likes & Dislikes”

Review: 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World Book Cover 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World [2019] – ★★★1/2

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World” is a shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2019 book by the Turkish-British author Elif Shafak (The Architect’s Apprentice [2013])). In this story, Tequila Leila is found dead in a trash bin on the outskirts of Istanbul, but her mind keeps working for another ten minutes and thirty-eight seconds, during which time we are introduced to Leila’s childhood, her meetings with the- dearest-to-her people, and, finally, to the events leading up to her death. As Leila’s mind starts to race through her life events, we get to know Istanbul and its dark history, as well as the plight of the most marginalised people living within the city walls. Shafak’s “mind-slipping-away” concept is intriguing, and she does try to make her book as evocative as possible. However, the second half of the book is nowhere near as interesting as the first half, and the prose is sometimes sentimentally-inclined and even pretentious. There is this feeling when reading this book that the “mind-slipping-away” element is a gimmick introduced by Shafak to get our attention so that we can finally read what she wants us to understand: that Istanbul has had many faces through history, and that there are, and have always been, marginalised people living there, especially women, who suffered much and now deserve attention, recognition and, above all, dignity – even after their death.  Continue reading “Review: 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak”

Oscar & Lucinda

Oscar & Lucinda“There was, she thought, so much to be said in favour of a game of cards. One was not compelled to pretend, could be silent without being dull, could frown without people being overtly solicitous about one’s happiness, could triumph over a man and not have to giggle and simper when one did it. One could kill time, obliterate loneliness, have a friendship with strangers one would never see again and live on that sweet, oiled cycle of anticipation, the expectation that something delicious was about to happen” (Peter Carey, 1988: 227).