The books shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the UK’s most prestigious and sought-after literary award, have just been announced. And, although they vary across countries and settings, they seem to share a focus: fucked up families. In fact, this year’s list is almost historically depressing, which is unusual for the Man Booker and may indicate some insecurity around the contests expansion beyond the borders of Britain.
Here are the books that you apparently should be reading, but probably don’t want to:
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.
First of all, just look at his face. Done? Great. Now consider what one of the chairs of the judging panel said: “If you have any yearning for a little bit of redemption or uplift at finally getting over things, this is not the book for you. It is beautifully done, but you have to go with it.”
Did You Ever Have A Family by Bill Clegg.
The description supplied by the judges: “the story of a middle-aged woman struggling after a gas explosion kills her family.”
Satin Island by Tom McCarthy.
From The Guardian: “I’m not giving anything away when I say there’s not much plot or, for that matter, human interest.”
Not a lot of enthusiasm is being mustered here, especially given that the Man Booker Prize is nothing to sneeze at. It has previously gone to masterpieces like Margaret Atwood’s “The Blind Assassin” and Kazuo Ishiguro’s “The Remains of the Day.” They may not be uplifting, but they’ve got some goddam human interest.