Tuesday 5 May 2015

March & April Reading (+ the Clarke, the Baileys and Eduardo Galeano)


Eduardo Galeano

There was lots of online coverage about the death of Günter Grass but much less about Eduardo Galeano. This is a great shame. Not only was he a great novelist but also a brilliant, outspoken critic against the wild excesses of capitalism and Western Imperialism. I urge everyone to read him.

The Peripheral - my first William Gibson EVER, hugely enjoyable. 

The Buried Giant – Kazuo Ishiguro’s new novel is staying with me. Hope it gets some prize action so it will force me to reread sooner rather than later. Great thoughts from the Strange Horizons Book Club here and thoughts from John Self here.

An Artist of the Floating World – but rereading this gave me little pleasure.

Quarantine – will definitely be going back to read all the other Jim Crace novels.

Bete - Adam Roberts and Europe in Autumn - Dave Hutchinson. Both are VERY brilliant. Already posted here and here.

The Wolf Border - Sarah Hall. I’m looking forward to some in-depth analysis and commentary on this. Hugely enjoyable, but not as rewarding as other novels this year – say, Ishiguro, Roberts, Hutchinson and Allan, and I have some doubts.

Mrs Fox - Sarah Hall.

After Me Comes the Flood - Sarah Perry’s debut is mighty fine.

The Girl with all the Gifts – M R Carey.

The Book of Strange New Things – Michel Faber.

Outline – Not sure why I’m surprised Rachel Cusk’s novel is so good but I’m a sucker for introspective metafiction and this hit all my buttons: some more thoughts soon hopefully
Eyes on the Prize

The Arthur C. Clarke shortlist 2015

  • The Girl With All The Gifts - M.R. Carey
  • The Book Of Strange New Things - Michel Faber
  • Europe In Autumn - Dave Hutchinson
  • Memory Of Water - Emmi Itäranta
  • The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August - Claire North
  • Station Eleven - Emily St John Mandel

For the Clarke Award my thoughts match up fairly well with Nina Allan’s here, though of course she expresses herself much more eloquently. It’s a strong list with a broad appeal – the best since 2011 - without the weirdness that saw novels by Naam and Mann included last year. Nonetheless Memory of Water and The Girl with all the Gifts simply don’t compare with some of the brilliant novels of 2014 – especially those by Adam Roberts, Lavie Tidhar, Jeff Vandermeer, Monica Byrne and Allan herself. See my list and my thoughts on A Man Lies Dreaming. So again it feels like a lost opportunity to showcase greater verve, style and complexity. I feel much more sympathetic to Faber’s novel than Allan however and don’t really begrudge it a place on the shortlist. I still haven’t read Yanagihara’s The People in the Trees. Boooo! Anyway, Hutchinson for me but I’ll smile happily if North or Mandel take the prize.

I’ve still not read Ancillary Sword so nor do I begrudge Ann Leckie her BSFA win though it feels a little safe – Foz Meadows over at Strange Horizons liked it a lot however so I must reserve judgment!

Bailey’s prize

  • Outline - Rachel Cusk
  • The Bees - Laline Paull
  • A God in Every Stone - Kamila Shamsie
  • How to be Both - Ali Smith
  •  A Spool of Blue Thread - Anne Tyler
  • The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters

Good list apart from The Bees (!!!!) though I’m not sure I can be bothered with the Tyler unless anyone can convince me otherwise. I doubt Shamsie or Waters will match the daring, and brilliance, of Smith or Cusk but I always enjoy their novels so I’m keeping an open mind and looking forward to them.