The Man Booker Prize might be the most prestigious book award in the English language, making the revelation of the long and short lists of the finalists a major event in the book world. This year’s announcement of the long list drew particular attention because 2014 is the first year in which Americans are eligible to win the prize. As interesting as it is to see four Americans on the list (especially Joshua Ferris who read at PSB for the paperback release of his National Book Award finalist novel Then We Came to the End) the Americans didn’t catch our eye; the two finalists who will be reading with Porter Square Books in September did.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan, September 5.
The Guardian calls Flanagan’s long-listed book “A masterpiece . . . A symphony of tenderness and love, a moving and powerful story that captures the weight and breadth of a life . . . A high point in an already distinguished career.” The Australian says, “Nothing could have prepared us for this immense achievement . . . The Narrow Road to the Deep North is beyond comparison . . . Intensely moving.” And from The Observer: “A novel of extraordinary power, deftly told and hugely affecting. A classic in the making . . . Masterful.”
In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma Death Railway in 1943, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle's young wife two years earlier. His life is a daily struggle to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from pitiless beatings - until he receives a letter that will change him forever. Moving deftly from the POW camp to contemporary Australia, from the experiences of Dorrigo and his comrades to those of the Japanese guards, this savagely beautiful novel tells a story of death, love, and family; exploring the many forms of good and evil, war and truth, guilt and transcendence, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.
Richard Flanagan is the author of five previous novels, including the widely acclaimed Gould’s Book of Fish, which have received numerous honors and have been published in twenty-six countries. He lives in Tasmania.
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, September 18
Joe Hill, who will be in conversation with David at our event says “The Bone Clocks is a stunning work of invention, incident, and character. The levels of awesome in this book are off the charts,” and Publisher’s Weekly wonders if The Bone Clocks is “the most ambitious novel ever written, or just the most Mitchell-esque?” while calling it “a thing of beauty.”
Following a scalding row with her mother, fifteen-year-old Holly Sykes slams the door on her old life. But Holly is no typical teenage runaway: A sensitive child once contacted by voices she knew only as "the radio people", Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. Now, as she wanders deeper into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life. For Holly has caught the attention of a cabal of dangerous mystics—and their enemies. But her lost weekend is merely the prelude to a shocking disappearance that leaves her family irrevocably scarred. This unsolved mystery will echo through every decade of Holly's life, affecting all the people Holly loves—even the ones who are not yet born.
A Cambridge scholarship boy grooming himself for wealth and influence, a conflicted father who feels alive only while reporting from occupied Iraq, a middle-aged writer mourning his exile from the bestseller list—all have a part to play in this surreal, invisible war on the margins of our world. From the medieval Swiss Alps to the nineteenth-century Australian bush, from a hotel in Shanghai to a Manhattan townhouse in the near future, their stories come together in moments of everyday grace and extraordinary wonder.
Rich with character and realms of possibility, The Bone Clocks is a kaleidoscopic novel that begs to be taken apart and put back together by a writer The Washington Post calls “the novelist who’s been showing us the future of fiction.”
And while we’re talking about prizes, Eimear McBride, winner of the most recent Bailey’s Prize for her first novel A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, will be in conversation with Madeline Miller, winner of the 2012 Orange Prize (the original name for the Bailey’s Prize) on October 29th, which should also be an amazing event.