Man Booker Prize Winner 2016 #FinestFiction

I’ve not really been following the prize this year, although I listed the titles of the longlist as they are generally where I identify the book or author I’m most likely to be interested in.  You can find the Man Booker Longlist here.

So the book that stood out for me from the longlist and the only one I have a copy of ready to read, actually made the shortlist which was Madeleine Thien (Canada) – Do Not Say We Have Nothing

Here are the titles from the shortlist and if you scroll down the winner will be revealed at the bottom of the page!

The 2016 Shortlist

Paul Beatty (US) The Sellout (Oneworld)

  • Satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality—the black Chinese restaurant

Deborah Levy (UK) Hot Milk (Hamish Hamilton)

  • Sofia, a young anthropologist, has spent much of her life trying to solve the mystery of her mother’s unexplainable illness. She and her mother travel to the searing, arid coast of southern Spain to see a famous consultant in the hope that he might cure her unpredictable limb paralysis. A profound exploration of the sting of sexuality, of unspoken female rage, myth and modernity, the lure of hypochondria.

Graeme Macrae Burnet (UK) His Bloody Project (Contraband)

  • A brutal triple murder in a remote northwestern crofting community in 1869 leads to the arrest of a young man by the name of Roderick Macrae. There’s no question that Macrae is guilty, but the police and courts must uncover what drove him to murder the local village constable. And who were the other two victims?

Ottessa Moshfegh (US) Eileen (Jonathan Cape)

  • A lonely young woman working in a boys’ prison outside Boston in the early 60s is pulled into a very strange crime, in a mordant, harrowing story of obsession and suspense. Set in the snowy landscape of coastal New England in the days leading up to Christmas. 5 “repugnant, vile, fierce, exhibitionistic” stars said Jaidee, who recommends it for those willing to see the darkness in women.

David Szalay (Canada-UK) All That Man Is (Jonathan Cape)

  • Nine men. Each at a different stage of life, all living away from home, striving – in the suburbs of Prague, beside a Belgian motorway, in a cheap Cypriot hotel – to understand just what it means to be alive, here and now. A piercing portrayal of 21st-century manhood.

Madeleine Thien (Canada) Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Granta Books)

  • In Canada in 1991, ten-year-old Marie and her mother invite a guest into their home: a young woman who has fled China in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests. Her story brings to life one of the most significant political regimes of the 20th century and its traumatic legacy, which still resonates for a new generation. A gripping evocation of the persuasive power of revolution and its effects on personal and national identity, and an unforgettable meditation on China today.

And the Winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction for 2016 is….

*****

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

 

 

Click Here to Buy a Copy of Any Book from the Man Booker Prize

 

Where the River Parts by Radhika Swarup

I came across Where the River Parts by Radhika Swarup not long after reading the Sri Lankan author Nayomi Munaweera’s excellent second novel, What Lies Between Us which was published earlier this year and when I read her comment below on the novel, I was even more interested. Coincidentally, I’d been following Radhika Swarup on twitter and soon after seeing her book  around, she contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in reading it.

‘A heartbreaking story … on a chapter of South Asian history that has often been deemed too painful to be explored fully.’
Nayomi Munaweera, Author of Island of a Thousand Mirrors

River PartsIt is 1947, in the province of Punjab, which sits between India and Pakistan, an area where Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and others live side by side. Tension is mounting as political events cause rifts between friends and neighbours as many of the Muslim population support the area becoming part of Pakistan and many Hindu fear for their lives, while the same tensions exist among Muslims living in the predominantly Hindu parts of India.

They are all living on the cusp of Pakistan’s creation and the brutal partition of the two countries, which will split Punjab in two, the west becoming Pakistan, the east India, triggering the largest mass migration of humanity in history, affecting 10 million people.

Asha and Nargis are neighbours and best friends, they go to school together and spend time in each others homes, sharing their excitement at the future, especially as they are close to marriageable age and they know it’s something their parents are considering on their behalf. After he walks her to school for a week, Asha slowly becomes close to Nargis brother Firoze, a relationship that was unlikely to be accepted by their families even without the changes that Partition is threatening to bring.

‘Punjab has been set alight,’ he said at length. ‘It’s burning with a call for freedom, with a call for Partition.’

‘A call you favour.’

‘There’s no room for Muslims in a  free India.’

‘That’s not true.’

‘It is,’ he said firmly.

Partition 1947The thing they all fear most, that some desire most happens and Asha’s family leave their past behind and head for Delhi. Firoze helps them to escape and Asha leaves with a secret she has kept from everyone, the future unknown.

‘Suddenly those who read, those who had access to news, learned to differentiate. People spoke of ‘those Muslims’ and ‘those Hindus’, of separatist and patriots, of a Hindustan for Hindus and a Pakistan for Muslims. They spoke of two nations, they mourned the martyred, the shaheed.’

We follow the life of Asha and all that happens to her, the sacrifices she makes, the effect of the secrets she holds and watches as the family she raises and lives among move far from the childhood and attitudes she has known. She makes peace with what has happened and accepts her new life, until 50 years later, when old memories resurface as she visits her daughter and grand-daughter in New York, who are in conflict as Asha’s Indian grand-daughter has fallen in love with Hussain, a young Muslim originally from Pakistan.

One of the most touching scenes in the novel, one that must have encapsulated the thought processes of so many, was when a grandmother from Pakistan asks Asha about Delhi because she too had been severed from her roots. That and the frequent, evocative references to the way she would make tea or other subtle habits that retained within them, the essence of where she had come from – representing those seemingly insignificant things people miss, that when they encounter again, provide immense nostalgic pleasure. Radhik Swarup evokes these memory inducing touches without sentimentalising, we sense it at a primal level, as those who have ever left home for an extended period will recognise.

‘But I want you to tell me about India. I want you to tell me what changed in Delhi after I left.’

‘It’s changed. There are new shops, new roads, new names.’ She saw the woman’s face fall, and she leaned forward, taking her hands in her own. ‘But in spirit it remains the same. It’s still a village at heart; noisy and intrusive. There are still the narrow lanes that cross the magnificent boulevards, still the shanties beyond the grand circuses. It’s still impossible to keep things secret.’ The woman closed her eyes, considered Asha’s words, and a slow smile spread on her face. ‘In that case’, she said, ‘all is well.’

An often heart-breaking story of the impossibilities of love to survive political and religious differences and events, the way it changes lives, how people cope and the deep compassion required if it is ever to be overcome.

Author, Radhika Swarup

Author, Radhika Swarup

Radhika Swarup is an Indian author based in London, whose family was displaced by the Partition, having had to leave Pakistan and move to India, so the events and their repercussions are ‘engraved on our psyche’ .

Where The River Parts is her debut novel.

Buy a Copy of Where the River Parts

via Book Depository (Affiliate Link)

 

And the winners are…

Two digital copies of Niki Tulk’s mesmerising Shadow & Wings will soon be winging their way to…..

S&W winner

Susan  and  Lovinghomemade

Thank you to everyone who entered, I do hope you all have the opportunity to read this wonderful book eventually.

And….

Congratulations to Kimberly!

Meb4U

Meb4U winner


You have won a printed copy of Jojo Moyes  Me Before You
Thank you again to Penguin for offering this book.

I will be in touch to let you know how to receive your prize!

Thank you so much to you all for reading and commenting on Word by Word, it is very much appreciated.

Claire

Christmas Draw

CIMG3620Yesterday we put our Christmas tree up and it looks different to other years, the children deciding against the multi-coloured, let’s use everything look and sticking to mainly silver and red, with the exception of the gold bird, because after all, what is Christmas without the reminder of wildlife and animals – at least that is my nine-year-old son’s view. Even Noisette, the cat seems to agree as he has found a new place to sleep, sniff and climb.

CIMG3615So while the hat was out, we put all your names in and drew out PB Rippey, from PB Writes, a copy of Paul Durcan’s Christmas Day is winging its way to your door and let’s hope it does indeed arrive in time for Christmas Day.

CIMG3618

Thank you everyone for participating, reading and commenting in the Christmas Bloghop and to Stephanie for organising it. I look forward to the same next year!

Joyeux Noël!

The Versatile Blogger Award

Blogging awards make excellent writing prompts and get me writing about something other than books as well as encouraging good blogging etiquette; i.e. visiting other blogs, commenting and being supportive.

This lovely award has been passed on to me most recently via Fi’s Magical Writing Haven whose exquisite river of stones vignettes are a joy to indulge in.

However, I must also say thank you to a few others who have also mentioned this blog.  So ‘Merci beaucoup’ Elizabeth, medieval historian at Lapidary Prose who used her award to acknowledge her gratitude to family, followers and supportive writers and Subtle Kate from Sydney and Liz Shaw who offers creativity prompts for writers, journalers and artists at The Writing Reader.

Ok, 7 things you may not know about me:

  1. I am an Aquarian.
  2. The 1600 acre hill country sheep farm where I spent my childhood was one of the Middle Earth locations in the film ‘Lord of the Rings’.
  3. Golden Plover, Whitsunday Islands

    I once worked on the 104 foot (30m) tall ship ‘The Golden Plover’; I was employed as a hydro ceramic engineer (dishwasher), except when the Captain or 1stmate shouted “all hands on deck”.

  4. I have visited more than 30 countries.
  5. I was a bridesmaid at a traditional African wedding in Lagos, Nigeria.
  6. I am married to a man who was born in a manger refugee camp in Bethlehem whose name starts with J.
  7. I like to read Buddhist philosophy.

And a few more blogs I recommend:

Arabic Literature (in English) – I don’t travel as much these days, so I love to read translations, experience different cultures and travel through books.

Books & Bowel Movements – Cassie’s enthusiasm for books and the way she writes about them is contagious and I love that she loved ‘The Bone People’.

Tomcat in the Red Room – he doesn’t post very often, but writes the most amazing reviews and has a natural vocabulary I envy.

Nexus –A humanities teacher and an artist sharing wonderful moments in the classroom and elsewhere.

Hooked – One woman at Sea, Trolling for truth – when I need to go to sea I watch one of her video posts; the writing is exquisite and I hope she publishes a book soon.

Liebster Award

During our ‘dizaine de jour’ (12 day) hospital stay, my blog was nominated for a Liebster award by the inspirational Candyce who quit her job to Return To Writing and very kindly wrote a few kind words relating to my book blogging meanderings. Thank you Candyce.

So what is a Liebster? Both a word (German for dearest or beloved) and an honour, it is bestowed by those in the early stages of writing a blog (less than 200 followers) upon 3-5 bloggers they admire.

When nominated we should:

1. Link back to the blogger who awarded us.

2. Tag 3-5 blogs to receive the award.

3. Inform them of their nomination.

4. Display the Liebster Award image on our blog.

Recently I joined the SheWrites community of writers and since then I have had many thoughtful visitors to my blog who continue to leave kind and encouraging comments. So thank you also to all the SheWrite sisters out there, it’s wonderful to be part of the group.

I am enjoying journeying through blogsville connecting with wonderful, inspiring people, admiring the diversity of passionate interests and thought provoking musings of this growing community.

So my nominations are:

  1. The Spirit that Moves Me – A beautiful and insightful blog that uncovers and shares the sacred through creativity and the feminine. In a recent post called ‘Finding home’ she writes “Home is not a cottage, a house, or the city in which I live. It is the moment when I am fully present and fully alive. It is when I am aware of myself and the love that surrounds me, of where I come from and who I am.” I feel right at home with this spirit and happy to be following.
  2.  Speaking of Words and Quilts – Amy has started her blog to record and reflect her writing journey and often uses metaphors relating to her quilt making as well as the magnificent landscape that surrounds her. I’m no quilter, but I love her honest style and the way she finds insightful teachings through her scraps of fabric, even that beautiful, ugly quilt she’s not yet ready to show us.
  3.  Mishfit – Mish is a writer, a Mum and an inspiration to many women in Melbourne, Australia, where she runs a fitness and personal training service for Mums. She is the most knowledgeable person I know regarding female incontinence and can quote scary statistics that will make you take note even if you think that’s not me; most of all she empowers women to get in shape while making the children part of it, – yes, babies have supervised fun too!
  4. Wouldn’t that rip the fork out of your nightie?? – Aria writes from the heart, embracing all of the many aspects of her persona, she is inspirational, intuitive, funny, (whacked in her words), insightful, highly creative and prolific – she wakes at 4am and doesn’t sleep till late and is definitely making the most of those hours. Be careful, you could lose hours on this wonderful blog.
  5. Stories Are Good Medicine – Children’s doctor turned author, Sayantani muses on the writing process, yoga and the dharma, reviews interesting books and offers an alternative perspective. Healthy and thought provoking medicine indeed.

Hankyu Railway – A 15 Minute Miracle

Recently I was on a 12 hour flight contemplating what I thought would be an eternity of reading time which somehow did not come to pass.  I would still recommend Anthony Capella’s ‘Empress of Ice cream’ as good inflight reading, but on this occasion the only thing I could concentrate on, apart from my eight and nine year old companions was the Inflight magazine.

I read that magazine right through, but could I find a film that suited my mood when a book couldn’t?  Well, I admit I was hard-pressed; whether it was a book or a movie – both passive pastimes – what I really wanted was to get horizontal like my sleeping companions had somehow managed.  Nothing Hollywoodesque tempted me, so I found myself scrutinising the blurbs for the Korean, Chinese, Japanese and Singaporean films and found a wonderful gem ‘Hankyu Railway – A 15 Minute Miracle.’

The Hankyu Railway, a 15 minute one way line, is what links the stories of a few characters as they navigate pertinent issues in their respective lives.  A young office worker learns of her fiancés infidelity and exacts revenge while trying to retain her honour; a grandmother with her granddaughter who never encroaches past the accepted boundaries of tolerance, decides to speak the words other have thought but never ventured and brings with it the wisdom and respect of her years.

Much is understood without ever needing to be said, but what is so beautiful about this film and these journeys is that each of these characters does decide to step beyond convention and say something that will make a difference.

The film is based on Hiro Arikawa’s bestselling novel ‘Hankyu Densha’ and it is a tribute to reaching out, to acknowledging another human being, acting on an instinct for the good of humanity.  It is about small acts of kindness, that a few words might somehow change the course of a fellow human being’s life for the better.

It reminds me of another favourite Japanese film, though they are very different.  ‘The Forest of Mogari’ relies less on dialogue and is a story of the human spirit, a meditation on life, death, grief and the necessity of letting go.