Chinaman by Shehan Karunatilaka
This book has been stalking me for a long time. It first came to my attention when it was selected as one of the Waterstone’s 11, then it won the 2012 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and I keep seeing positive references to it on Twitter. Last week it won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and I felt it was finally time to give it the benefit of the doubt, despite my hatred for cricket.
Unfortunately it got off to a bad start. The book was riddled with obscure facts about cricket and I had to force myself to concentrate. I only kept reading because of the sentence at the end of this paragraph on page 6:
I hoped this was an indication that the cricket facts would be short lived. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case. After 40 pages I could stand it no longer and abandoned it. If you enjoy reading about sport, particularly cricket, then I’m sure there is a lot to be gained from reading this book.
Please Look After Mother by Kyung-Sook Shin
I’ve had a mixed reaction to previous winners of the Man Asian Literary Prize, unfortunately this year produced another that wasn’t quite to my taste. The book is set in Korea and follows a family as they search for their elderly mother who has gone missing in Soeul.
The second person narrative style annoyed me:
I also longed for a more complex plot, instead of just an overly sentimental discussion about how important our parents are.
I abandoned it after about 70 pages, but if you enjoy gentle, introspective books written in an experimental writing style then you may well love it.
The Marlowe Papers Ros Barber
This book hasn’t actually won any awards, but I’m so confident that it will that I’ve decided to include it in this list. The book is written from the perspective of Christopher Marlowe. It assumes that he didn’t die in a pub brawl, but went on to write numerous plays under the pseudonym of William Shakespeare.
This book is written in the style of Shakespeare and is obviously genius:
Unfortunately I’ve never enjoyed reading Shakespeare. I have horrible flashbacks of being forced to read it in school every time I think about it.
If you enjoy reading Shakespeare then you’re in for a real treat!
Have you read any of these books?