So if you haven’t heard of the Not the Booker Prize, here’s a quick summary for you… Not the Booker was created as a counterpoint against the Man Booker prize by The Guardian – with the same selection criteria as the Booker – but with one key aim: to be a truly democratic, all-encompassing prize. Books can be any length and any genre, and are voted for by the public.
Anyway, the votes are in, and the shortlist for the prize are:
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac – as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly’s wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark – from storytelling genius Neil Gaiman. It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond this world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed – within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it. His only defence is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.
I am beyond excited to read this book! I love Neil Gaiman and I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about his latest book. I’m trying to resist until the paperback comes out, but I don’t think I will hold out much longer.
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right? During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath. During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale. What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to? Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. With wit and compassion, Kate Atkinson finds warmth even in life’s bleakest moments, and shows an extraordinary ability to evoke the past. Here she is at her most profound and inventive, in a novel that celebrates the best and worst of ourselves.
This is another book I’ve heard good things about. I was previously unsure, but the premise of the novel and the rave reviews have convinced me – as soon as it comes out in paperback, it’s on the list.
The Trader of Saigon by Lucy Cruickshanks
From Hanoi to Saigon, a tale of one woman’s search for a better life – and a thriller that strikes to the merciless heart of post-civil war Vietnam. In the chaos and corruption of 1980s’ Vietnam, three seemingly unconnected lives are brought together by greed, fear and hope. As a US Army deserter, Alexander is a man without country; trapped in a life he no longer controls and embroiled in the dark business of trading women. His latest victim is Hanh, a rural girl who moved to Hanoi to escape inevitable poverty and who sees Alexander’s arrival as the answer to her prayers. Neither of them has ever met Phuc – a Vietnamese businessman who backed the wrong side in the war and is now unable to pay his financial and political debts to the Party. But his struggles are about to change both their lives. From a society torn apart by war comes a tale of redemption and salvation; a thrilling saga and an explosive debut novel.
I’ll be honest, I hadn’t heard anything about this book. I have a feeling that the blurb doesn’t do the book justice – it seems to be making a Big Deal about how intensely brilliant this book is, whereas I’m sure it can do that by itself. It’s an intriguing sounding story – I’ve never read anything of the like before and might pick it up just for that.
Little White Lies and Butterflies by Suzie Tullett
A child of the nineties, Lydia Livingston is different. The last thing she’s ever wanted is to be superwoman; she knows first-hand that ‘having it all’ isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. As far as she’s concerned, when it comes to job versus family, it’s a definite case of one or the other. And whilst most women her age have spent years climbing the corporate ladder, she’s made a career out of bagging her perfect man. At almost thirty and still single, Lydia wonders if she’d made the right choice all those years ago. And realising the time has come to take stock, she goes against her family’s wishes and banishes herself off to a distant land-all in the hope of finding a new direction. At least that’s the plan. But Lydia Livingston isn’t just different, she’s misunderstood. A fact she knows all too well. So when the totally unsuitable Sam comes along, she decides to tell a little white lie, re-inventing herself as a professional chef – not exactly the best new identity to come up with for a woman who can’t even cook. Of course, the last thing she expects is for him to find out the truth and start blackmailing her. Let alone find herself roped into catering for a local wedding. But with things going from bad to worse, her madder than mad family also turn up in something of a surprise visit, intent on celebrating a birthday she’s no intentions of celebrating!
Is this a blackmail story or chicklit? I’m not sure and I’m not sure I’m convinced enough to give it a go (I’m not much of a chicklit reader…)
Anywhere’s Better Than Here by Zöe Venditozzi
Laurie has no idea where her life is going. She lives with her computer game-obsessed boyfriend who she can barely be bothered to speak to and she works in a meaningless job in an office where she avoids her co-workers. When Laurie meets an older, secretive man things take an unexpected turn and Laurie realises she needs a plan, and fast. Anywhere’s Better Than Here is a portrait of a young woman’s growing self- awareness as she finally decides to grow up and make her way in the world.
Another chicklit? This seems a bit of a self-discovery novel, which I could get on board with. As long as it moves on quite quickly from the meaningless job and useless boyfriend bit – it’s not something I need to read about!
Magda by Meike Ziervogel
Unloved sons turn their aggression on the outside world. Unloved daughters destroy the people they love, and then themselves. In this daring portrayal of Magda Goebbels – wife of Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels – Meike Ziervogel unveils an historical tale of abusive mother and daughter relationships that reaches a terrifying conclusion in the last days of Nazi Germany. Magda is born at the beginning of the 20th century, the illegitimate child of a maidservant who feels burdened with a daughter she does not want. The girl grows up to become an ambitious woman, desperate for love and recognition. When Magda meets Joseph Goebbels, he appears to answer all her needs, and together they have six children. Towards the end of the Second World War, Magda has become physically and emotionally sick. As she takes her children into the Fuhrer’s bunker, her eldest daughter Helga experiences an overwhelming sense of foreboding.
I definitely want to read this! It sounds fascinating – and from the blurb I’m not sure if it’s more of a novel or a biography. I’m picking this up as soon as I get near a bookshop.
What do you think of the Not the Booker Prize?
Have you read any of the books or will you be reading any of them?