The awards nominations are coming thick and fast right now, and this time it’s the Guardian First Book Award longlist. The submissions (strictly first-time books, but any genre) are whittled down to the shortlist by a panel of judges: Susie Orbach, Rachel Cusk, Philip Hensher and Paul Mason and chaired by Guardian Review editor Lisa Allardice, and made up of store-based reading groups in Waterstones. The winner will be announced in November, receiving a prize of £10,000. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Picador
The longlist has been announced! The Man Booker – always accompanied by mixed feelings from the literary world – has announced its 13 titles up for this year’s prize. Of the authors, only two (Crace and Tóibín) have been nominated for the Prize before, and three – Bulawayo, Harris and Ryan – are debut novelists. Here’s a bit more about the books themselves… Continue reading
Cloudstreet by Tim Winton
Picador: paperback published 1991: 431 pages
Cloudstreet – a broken-down house of former glories on the wrong side of the tracks, a place teeming with memories of its own, a place of shudders and shadows and spirits.
From separate catastrophes, two families flee to the city and find themselves sharing this great sighing structure and beginning their lives again from scratch. Together they roister and rankle in a house that begins as a roof over their heads and becomes a home for their hearts.
In this fresh, funny novel, full of wonder and dreams, Tim Winton weaves the threads of lifetimes, of twenty years of shouting and fighting, laughing and grafting, into a story about acceptance and belonging. Continue reading
So it’s been announced – the founders* of the Literature Prize have teamed up with specialist publishers the Folio Society to create the brand new Folio Prize.
The Literature Prize (now the Folio) was created from the fallout of the 2011 Booker Prize, when the prize was dismissed as “dumbing down” and the fall of the Booker was gloomily predicted as critics denounced it as celebrating popularity over quality. Continue reading
Nourishment by Gerard Woodward
Picador: paperback published 2010: 339 pages
The English are an unusual bunch: quirky and eccentric, often reserved and reticent, but always strong and resilient. Tory Pace, the heroine of this beautiful written and hilarious black comedy, is all of these things. Typically, she’s trying to make the best of life in a difficult time: struggling, as only a mother can, to sustain her family in a land starved of nourishment. But like so many triumphs over adversity, her survival comes with a heavy price.
Beginning shortly after the outbreak of war and continuing into the deftly drawn austerity years that followed, Woodward offers a generous family saga. Equally memorable for poignant moments of sadness, comic tableaux, witty observations and unforgettable characters, Nourishment is a novel like no other – every bit as unique and charming as an English family, in fact.
Gerard Woodward was a Creative Writing tutor at Bath Spa university – my old haunt. Although I was never in his class, I would occasionally come across him around campus, or hear stories from his students in the Student Union bar. He’s quick-witted and sharp-tongued and I’ve always been recommended to read his books by fellow students – and I trust their opinion implicitly.
The story has a brief arc, stretched out for 339 pages. This is no bad thing, it allows the reader to delve deeper into the story as it runs, and learn about the characters. Some of it is deeply moving, whilst other bits strangely comical. It’s an entertaining read, with bits that haunt you after you’ve finished reading. There are intriguing twists and turns, that although aren’t surprising, add discord and push the characters.
The strength of Woodward’s work is in its characters. They are flawed and tangible, and ask questions of the reader. This is definitely a black comedy – with equal amounts of humour and poignancy. Oddly enough, I didn’t see Woodward’s charisma in the writing – I thought I would have had more of a feel of the author, but then perhaps that’s a sign of a good writer. Maybe I’m just sad because I wanted to feel that I was reading something written by someone I knew.
Overall, an entertaining read, but a once off. I’ll definitely try more Gerard Woodward though! There are plenty of books out there for me to enjoy, smug in the knowledge that I brushed shoulders with this author.
Next book: I began with starting on The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende (who I adore) … but there were problems. My brain, befuddled and fried by work and a whole pile of hectic days couldn’t get around the opening page. So I went back to my bookshelves and vowed I’d read the next book I laid my hand on. It turned out to be Any Human Heart by William Boyd. A fictional diary account of a young boy, growing up during the biggest events in the 20th Century, I’ve heard lots of good things about William Boyd, which is why I had the book on my shelf. Having started it – I have no idea why I didn’t read it sooner! I’m hooked!