Tuesday, July 29, 2008

the wheat from the chaff

The Booker judges caught us by surprise this year by announcing the longlist just after 2 p.m. I quickly made myself a coffee and then scooted through the list, cross checking prices at my favoured online booksellers and placing orders for the ones I fancy reading. Initial impressions are that I haven’t managed to bag any bargains like I did last year - prices quite uniform across my sellers. Bookrabbit has come out well on price on three of my chosen titles, and if their delivery speed is up to their usual standard I should be reading the first of these titles before the end of the week.

First to get those I haven’t ordered out of the way -

Gaynor Arnold - Girl in a Blue Dress

John Berger - From A to X

both of which are not yet released. I like the sound of the Berger, but the Arnold sounds a little reminiscent of the dreaded Winnie and Wolf.

Joseph O’Neill - Netherland

Salman Rushdie - The Enchantress of Florence

I’ve read reviews of both of these in the LRB. I’ve never read any Rushdie and perhaps I’m wrong to dismiss him without trying, but this doesn’t sound the best place for me to start. And I read the Netherland review only yesterday, and finished by saying aloud ‘that sounds like just the sort of book that used to be on the Booker list’. I simply don’t think I’m programmed to enjoy a cricket novel!

Steve Toltz - A Fraction of the Whole

Philip Hensher - The Northern Clemency

Both of these look quite good (and John Self’s review of the first didn’t totally put me off) but they are so hefty I don’t know if I can bring myself to make that kind of commitment.

Tom Rob Smith - Child 44

And I might / probably / perhaps get this one later on. But it just looks a bit too much like a cheap thriller to me. Hopefully someone will review it and change my mind.

So, having dismissed over half the list already, the ones I have ordered and am looking forward to receiving are -

Aravind Adiga - The White Tiger

Sebastian Barry -The Secret Scripture

Michelle de Kretser - The Lost Dog

Amitav Ghosh - Sea of Poppies

Linda Grant - The Clothes on Their Backs

Mohammed Hanif - A Case of Exploding Mangoes

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