Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Worthy Winner?

Well it's all done and dusted for another year. I must admit that although I liked Inheritance of Loss it did not have the wow factor that I presumed a winner would have.

So off to read this month's book - Alan Titchmarsh - light and fluffy here I come.

Many thanks to Mark for logging our thoughts onto the Man Booker website and to Sheila and Debbie at Southend library for organising us motley crew!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

views after the announcement

What can i say? Although not my final choice in the end (chose In the Country of Men over it), I'm happy to have enjoyed reading this winner before the verdict came out. I think I'll read it again just to have a good laugh--that is, after finishing off this pile of other books that sits here waiting for me, for ages now, it seems.

I had lots of fun doing this. Till next time...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Carry Me Down

Carry Me Down
Another book seen through the eyes of a child - this time one with his own problem, a family trying to make do and unfortunately I found the whole thing depressing .

Night Watch
A very well researched setting [ the London scenes during the war gave a feeling of understanding the horror people went through] with some good characters.
I thought it was a good read and apart so far from In The Country of Men the only one I didn’t find overly depressing.

could we have a meeting before our regular tuesday one?

Some of the library reading group members met up today at our Ottakar's monthly session (side note: C. J. Sansom spoke to us about his more recent books Sovereign and Winter in Madrid, and answered some questions--he was very lovely) and all of us have voiced our great disappointment about the fact that we seem to have no meeting before Tuesday, or at least before the winner is announced, about the Booker shortlisted books! Sheila or Debbie, would it be possible to meet up on a Monday afternoon, same time, apart from the Tuesday one? I know it's short-notice, but it would be a shame to have been a part of this event, and not even one discussion about the books! this blog was a big help (thank you, Mark, for setting it up!) but unfortunately, only 6 members are here, and such a low number is not really representative of the whole group. I'm sorry to have mentioned it only now, but after having spoken to other members, I realized that I wasn't the only one harbouring these feelings, so I'm thinking there's no harm in making this suggestion. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Looking back at all that I have read, I am caught in a hopeless bind: if I were one of the judges, I would be struggling to choose a winner among Mother's Milk, In The Country of Men, and Inheritance of Loss. The first, for its unusual and beautiful revelation of family relationship taboos (never read anything like it), the second for its provocative look at a country's internal struggles (so in tune with the times), and the third for a refreshing and picturesque tale of Asian life and love which transcends all cultures and nations (we learn a lot of lessons here--well, in all three, come to think of it). So, as I find myself undecided, I'm happy that I am not a judge after all.

Anyway, all 6 were good reads in their own way, but I am crossing my fingers to hope that the winner will be any of the above 3.

The Inheritance of Loss: the lighter side of life

After having read 5 depressing views on life and history, it was a relief to end with a refreshing and hilarious account of the daily grind of Asian life. Our reading group read a book once on the sad life of India, and it was also written as a parody, and two of the same style makes me wonder if Asian authors prefer to write a happy side to tragic stories instead of dealing with them melodramatically. This doesn't overshadow the reality, though, but makes me feel that sometimes life can be so tragic that the only way to deal with it is to find the funny side of things and laugh. I liked the author's style of anecdotal writing, which makes it easy to digest, put down, and go back whenever I wanted--although the pauses in between reading were never too long because I wanted to finish the book already! :)

This was a surprisingly light read, for a book with lots of substance. I liked the way Desai writes the heavy truth with very light strokes, making the burden somewhat easier to bear. It is mainly a story of being a stranger in another land, as well as in one's own country, within one's own family and friends, even within one's own self--a stranger's need for acceptance by others and by self, and it is never enough. Although the characters were stereotypical, I felt the prose to be the opposite: there were beautiful words to describe all the internal frustrations involved in prejudice and injustice that have been handed down generations, with both the real and the fantasized making the problems worse (like a catch-22). There was an uncanny accuracy in dealing with the idea of living an ordinary self-absorbed existence day by day, in the midst of an outside world of poverty and chaos, and at the same time, while personal struggles work up a storm within, outside life goes on. I initially thought that the ending was too abrupt, but on second thought, in a matter of a few lines, Desai was able to capture the hope of endless possibilities post-tragic events. Simply brilliant.

The Secret River

I am afraid the style of writing and lack of dialogue put me off
this book which was a shame as the storyline was interesting. The atmosphere of London was good as was the description of Australia and the Aborigine’s but apart from that I couldn’t get on with it.

Monday, October 02, 2006


I have managed to finally finish the two remaining books.

In the Country of Men
Sorry The Secret River but you have lost your crown. This is my favourite of the six Booker shortlisted books. The author managed to portray the fear, secrecy and troubles through a little boys eyes. The despair, betrayal and corruption, the horrific scenes in the story are offset by the hope for freedom and humanity. The ending gave us a hint of redemption. I want this to be the winner!!!

Inheritance of Loss
The story is set mainly in The Himalayas and New York with interesting characters and complex situations. The writing style of this book reminded me of The Black Englishman read a very long time ago at the start of The Gallery Reading Group. I enjoyed the vivid descriptions and writing style. An enjoyable book but not my winner!

So I can now sit back and enjoy the reviews of my colleagues. Enough highbrow reading for now. Off at lunchtime to treat myself to some chicklit!!!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Secret River is one secret I can live without

I could be a bit biased because I've read In the Country of Men already, which I feel has all the quirkiness in the face of simplicity that make an excellent prize-winning writing (one more hurrah for this book!), but sad to say, I didn't feel for The Secret River as much as I hoped I would. To be fair, I started reading with an open and interested mind as this is one story (the exile of English convicts to Australia) I've never read anything about, both in fiction and non-fiction. The story itself was beautiful: a man's yearning for security and stability is one each one of us has experienced at one time or another. It was informative, yes, and it did evoke a certain accuracy of the times with the language and descriptions, but I didn't quite like the pacing of the book: there were some parts that just seemed to rush through, such as the hero's capture and trial--i felt like it just sprung on me!--and other sections that simply dawdled--too many times the author delivered details of the setting that, although beautifully written, just wasn't evocative enough. I also think the lack of dialogue may have contributed to such rambling accounts, and I would have preferred more of it. Although I'm happy to have learned a few things from this book, I don't think I'd want to read it again.

Friday, September 29, 2006

In the Country of Men

A very good book with some interesting people. I thought that the narration as seen through the eyes of Suleiman [the son] was very good as he tried to understand the conflict both his mother and father went through, his mother trying to get through everything life had given her so far and his father his political beliefs. I also thought the ending gave hope for forgiveness on both sides.