WhyToRead today brings you short reviews of the Man Booker Prize shortlist of 6 books from 2016. With this quick glimpse into the contents you can decide if want to try and read further. Push yourself to read something new and stretch your comfort zone. You might find something wonderful. You’ll have to read to the end to find the prize winner.
Man Booker Prize Shortlist Reviews 2016
1. Hot Milk – Deborah Levy
Sofia takes her mother to the coast of Spain to find cure for mother’s illness – an inexplicable leg paralysis. As her mother gets an unconventional treatment, Sofia discovers the pain that caused her mother’s illness. Deborah Levy has written an amazing book about mother – daughter relationship. The novel is full of symbolism, beginning with the title – an ode to the first meal a baby has through to the last phrase. Hot Milk is a book about self-discovery in relation to your mother and what you mean to her. The scenery of the southern coast of Spain, another symbol, is a beautiful detail that crowns the beautiful journey this book takes you on.
2. His Bloody Project – Graeme Macrae Burnet
Graeme Macrae Burnet takes us back to 1869 Scotland, to a remote community where a brilliant young seventeen year boy murders three people. Now a historian, the author’s double tells the story of the crime, the trial and the boy’s execution with the iciness of historical documents. This is like a true crime novel. But the author transcends the usual recipe for this type of novel. He adds an unusual new character, the community, which awakes from a long dream of rotating crops and holy days after the crime happens. The testimonies, medical files and interviews, all included in “His Bloody Project”, gives this book apparent veracity. You simply believe that it is happening in your reality. Now.
3. Eileen – Ottessa Moshfegh
Eileen Dunlop is a twenty-four years old woman who worked as a secretary at a boys’ prison outside Boston during the 1960s. She opens up from the first pages about her life, her fears and her hectic lifestyle. She is lonely and lives with her alcoholic father. And tells us the story of the week before Christmas, when she disappeared. Eileen is a dark psychological novel told from the heroine’s perspective. So intense that you won’t be able to put it down. The touch of mystery the crime gives this book makes it a page turner. Ottessa Moshfeg has written a book that is a hauntingly accurate description of all women’s’ insecurities.
4.All That Man Is – David Szalay
Short story collections are not that common in the Man Booker Prize. David Szalay essentially decrypts what men are in this beautifully put together collection of nine stories. Nine contemporary stories about men at different stages of their lives living in countries other than their own. The author destroys the common myth that men are all knowing, strong and emotionless human beings. Challenged by life fulfillment, the men in the stories are are flawed and crumbling under pressure. Szalay doesn’t write an ode to manhood, but illustrates how fragile it is. I loved this book because it describes the pain of decision and breaks apart, piece by piece, the image I had about men in general.
5. Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thien
Do Not Say We Have Nothing is the kind of novel that will leave you grateful for what you have. Marie and Ai-Ming are trying to put together what happened to their two fathers and their friend. Three talented musicians who lived in China at the beginning of Mao Zedong’s reign. Forced to give up their artistic freedom, the artists try to strive in a country where forced prison labor, mass executions, starvation and fear was common. The historical and social details of China after the 1949 Civil War are accurate and enthralling, which make this story more amazing.
This is not a book about a family, but a glimpse in the recent past of families who tried to overcome a political regime that was draining the life out of an entire country. The musical harmonies make this book not only a story about Marie’s family but a symphony for the thousands of souls who lost their freedom and lives because of totalitarian political regimes.
Man Booker Prize 2016 WINNER review
WINNER: The Sellout – Paul Beatty
Acclaimed by many, this book has won several prestigious awards including The Man Booker Prize (2016), National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction and John Dos Passos Prize for Literature.
The Sellout is at first glance a book about a man who ended up in front of the Supreme Court being prosecuted for keeping a slave. But Paul Beatty writes a hilarious and amazing satire about a culture everybody talks about but it doesn’t let anyone in. Bonbon, the main character is a man of color who decides to re-segregate Dickens, a once all black neighborhood now mostly Hispanic. He also convinces Hominy, his friend and the last of the Little Rascals, to be his slave, reinstating slavery. I loved this book because somehow Beatty touches all the stereotypes on African-American culture with humor while still being politically correct.