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2010 Booker Prize Chunkster Recommended books

Skippy Dies – Paul Murray

 Long listed for 2010 Booker Prize

One of the reasons I love reading entire long lists is that I stumble upon fantastic books that I wouldn’t otherwise pick up. I had heard good things about Skippy Dies before the Booker long list was announced, but I couldn’t motivate myself to read 650+ pages about teenagers living in an Irish boarding school. I’m so pleased that I read this book as it was entertaining, gripping and insightful.

The book opens with Daniel ‘Skippy’ Juster dying. At first the reason for his death seems obvious, but the plot then goes back in time and we slowly discover that the cause of Skippy’s death isn’t as simple as people initially suspected.

Much of this book could be described as a coming-of-age story, but unlike most other books which describe the lives of teenagers, this book captivated me. Skippy drew me into his emotionally charged world and nearly managed to make me laugh and cry – something no other book has managed to do. I was amazed at how much the everyday school life engaged me – I flew through the book and found every single one of the pages to be captivating and necessary for the plot.

Skippy’s roommate is Ruprecht, an overweight genius trying utilise M-theory to travel to another dimension. I’m a big fan of complex science in literature, but I’m sure that those who struggle to understand physics will still love Ruprecht’s enthusiasm for invention. As well as physics we are also treated to war poetry, Irish folklore and an array of other subjects – I loved it!

As the book drew to a conclusion I became increasingly impressed with the complexity of the plot. When I reached the final page I wanted to start the book all over again, just so I could see the little clues that I’d failed to pick up on.

This book works on so many levels – it is easy to read, but the text hides enough to entertain multiple re-readings.

I can see future generations studying this book and I think it would be a worthy winner of the 2010 Booker Prize.

Highly recommended.

Have I persuaded you to try this book?

Do you think it deserves to win the Booker Prize?

57 replies on “Skippy Dies – Paul Murray”

So great to see such an enthusiastic response from you about this one, Jackie. This is one of the books on the long-list that definitely appeals to me and sounds like just my kind of book. I agree that the length is a tad daunting, which is why I’ll probably pick it up in the three-part paperback set when its released over here as opposed to the hulking hardcover! It sounds like there’s a lot to enjoy in this one, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading it myself!

Steph, I read the single paperback edition and it wasn’t too bad – I wouldn’t like a hardback edition though :-)

Please don’t be daunted by the length of this one. I read it in four days which is very quick for a book this long – I didn’t really want to put it down which partly explains it, but the rest just flowed so well that it never felt daunting. I’m sure you’ll love it.

I thought Skippy was a dog for some reason, and there is no way, prior to this review, I would have ever considered picking it up. But when you rate something this high, it doesn’t lose you in the middle, or leave a plot thread hanging, and you say you loved it? That is all the convincing I need. I’m already dreaming of the audio…

Sandy, LOL! and I guess you’d avoid reading a book all about a dog dying ;-)

I don’t think they’ve made an audio version of this one yet – I hope that they make one for you soon.

Tricia, I’m actually hoping that it wins now. That feels weird as David Mitchell is one of my favourite authors and Room is my favourite book of 2010, but Skippy Dies is a very special book and deserves the Booker more than the others. I have a feeling it will improve in my head as time passes – the more I think about it the cleverer it seems :-)

Aishwarya, I’m actually considering upping it to 5 stars. I think with time it could improve – I’ll have to see how the next few months go, but I’m sure it will make my top 5 of 2010.

Loved this book – it’s actually incredibly thought-provoking, insightful and clever, and I loved all the intertwining plots as well. Glad you enjoyed this book, and like you, I hope it makes the shortlist. Not sure about it being a worthy winner, but then again, I’ve only read five of the long-listed books, so you’re in a much better place to comment on that. I wouldn’t complain if it won, to be honest.

anothercookiecrumbles, I have heard fantastic things about C, so everything could change once I’ve read that one, but for now (having read 10 of the long list) I think that Skippy Dies is the most deserving of the prize. It is such a wonderful book and it is so nice to see that other people are enjoying it too. :-)

Carrie, I didn’t realise that it is released today in the US. I look forward to seeing how it is received over there as it could be viewed as a very British book – not sure if that is good or bad!

I put this on my list after seeing the review at Another Cookie Crumbles yesterday. I’m glad to see you enjoyed it–that makes it more likely that I’ll keep it on my list!

I’ve heard so much about this that I think I have to read it. I’m alsoa lover of complex physics in literary fiction so I think you have most definitely hooked me in! Talking of science in fiction, I’m really intrigued to see what you make of C!

Dan, It reminded me of Scarlett Thomas at some points. I do wonder if the addition of physics made me love it more than I otherwise would have done, but I think you’ll find a lot to enjoy in this one :-)

To answer your question, yes, you have convinced me to read it. I hadn’t heard of it before the longlist was released, and it was one of the few that caught my attention. I reserved it at my library but now I am considering purchasing it.

Is it sad to say that I think I would enjoy 650 pages of an Irish boarding school? Depending on the era. I think it’s the books I grew up on, too much Enid Blyton.

This does sound good, I like the blend of location and theme.

Glad to hear you loved this! I’m going to add it to my September pile. I did hear one criticism of it – that the subject matter didn’t really seem ambitious or prize-worthy – but that’s not a criticism that holds any weight with me at all – way more interested in the writing and ideas and entertainment value.

Lija, Much of the book was about life in a boarding school, but it also included a variety of other subjects. I think that the breadth of knowledge and the way it was handled are deserving of a prize. I actually think that Skippy Dies has one of the most ambitious subject matters on the Booker long list – m theory is one of the hardest concepts in the world!

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