Booker Prize Other

Two Abandoned Bookers

The Teleportation Accident

The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman

Five words from the blurb: experimental, theatres, mysteries, cosmic, noir 

The Teleportation Accident is a bizarre book! It is so weird that I’m not sure I really know what it is about and that was my main problem with the book. So many different themes were covered: from 17th century inventors, through 1930s Germany, to Paris and Los Angeles. It also included science fiction, romance, sex, mystery and violence. I thought there was too much going on and struggled to see the connection between all the different aspects of the book.

The writing lacked subtly – everything seemed to bounce off the page and I became drained by the over-enthusiasm of it all. It often came across as pretentious and I’m afraid that lots of little things that were probably supposed to be amusing/clever just annoyed me (for example naming the central character’s girlfriend Adele Hitler).

Some of the descriptions were vivid, but some made no sense to me:

The problem was his legs, which were just beginning their slow transmutation into the elongated pine cones that can be found glued to the pelvis of anyone with Loeser’s desultory level of physical fitness who wakes up in the morning after a four-hour hike, and were therefore in no condition to perform a sudden vengeful charge.

I abandoned the book after about 80 pages, but skim read some other sections. Perhaps it all makes sense once you’ve finished the book, but I’m afraid the writing style was too bizarre for me.



Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil

Five words from the blurb: Bombay, opium, poor, underworld, broken

Narcopolis is set in Bombay’s underworld. It is filled with a cast of characters who live in this world of drugs, prostitution and poverty. The writing is outstanding and the book is filled with quotable passages:

He enjoys flowers but he worships trees. He wants to be the banyan’s slave. He wants to think of time the way a tree does, a decade as nothing more than some slight addition to his girth.

It captured the atmosphere of the opium dens perfectly, but I struggled with the number of characters – there were so many that I couldn’t connect with any of them. The plot also seemed non-existent. It meandered from one beautifully rendered scene to another, but there was no hook to keep my attention.

The dream-like, hallucinogenic nature of the writing will appeal to many people, but I struggled to follow what was happening and became frustrated by the amount of information that was going over my head. I abandoned it after about 100 pages.

This book is deserving of its Booker longlisting and I’m sure that anyone willing to put in the effort to read (and re-read) this book will be rewarded, but I’m afraid I prefer books with a more compelling plot.


Have you read either of these books?

Did you enjoy them more than I did?

15 replies on “Two Abandoned Bookers”

Tony, Yes – I do abandon a lot of books. From past experience I don’t think I’d enjoy them if I finished. If it hasn’t engaged me after 50 – 100 pages then it is rare for me to fall in love with it after that. I’d rather move on to something that excites me.

Caroline, I think you’d enjoy Narcopolis. I think you’ll find the descriptions enough to entertain you – I look forward to seeing your glowing review at some point in the future!

I’m still waiting on my copy of Teleportation to arrive from the UK. I’m intrigued by its premise, but I think it’s one I’ll avoid reading on the bus and wait for home. I started Narcopolis before vacation, but I was struggling to get into it and let it at home because it’s a print book. I am reading Communion Town and somewhat enjoying it. The writing is outstanding, but I’m not yet convinced it’s actually a novel. So far, though, the writing is enough to keep me engaged. Good luck with the rest of the Bookers!

nomadreader, I’ve just started Communion Town and am enjoying it so far, but I hope the stories come together at some point too. I’ll be interested to see what you think of Narcopolis once you give it another go. I look forward to comparing notes with you on that and the others.

I know we don’t always see eye to eye on books, but one thing I think I CAN count on. And that is if you hate the thing and can’t finish it, I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t even try. If that is how I cull my list, so be it!

I would have had a slight interest in the teleportation book, but you put me off it now. 🙂 The Narcopolis book never appealed – I saw some other reviews of it. I HATE dreamlike writing {shudder}.

Hope your next book(s) will be supergood!

Both the title and the cover of the teleportation book are so cool, but that quote is so obnoxiously pretentious, and I would not be able to read more than a few pages of text like that before the book would fly across the room. (Okay, I probably wouldn’t literally throw it, but it would quickly end up in my giveaway pile.) 🙂

Aylce, I don’t think I’ve actually thrown a book across the room, but I have put some down with force! If that quote annoys you then you should stay away from this book.

I haven’t really been excited by the Booker longlist. I am looking forward to seeing the Guardian’s ot the Booker shortlist next week as they had a much more varied and interesting selection.

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