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1990s Booker Prize Recommended books

A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

 

 

‘A Fine Balance’ was short listed for the Booker prize in 1996, and I cannot understand why it did not win this, or even ‘The Booker of Bookers’ – it is that good! 

It is hard to explain the plot, as it is so rich and complex, but basically it follows the lives of four strangers, from different sections of the Indian caste systems as they deal with life during the state of emergency in 1970’s India. The political situation is explained, so that even an outsider can understand the corruption and turmoil going on in the country. Each character is built up so well, that we feel we know them, and the surroundings are described in such a way that I imagine I’ve been there. It is not an easy read, in that many of the scenes described are disturbing, but the hardship is not dwelt upon, and it is amazing what positives can be made out of so little.  

At over 600 pages long, it is not a short book, and I was originally going to criticise it for not being a page turner. I now realise that this would be the wrong thing to do. Although it is not a fast paced book, I was gripped the whole way through. If it had been a quicker read it would have lost the rich detail I loved it for.  

This book changed the way I viewed many aspects of Indian society, particularly the street beggars, and I now have a greater understanding of life in India during the 1970s. 

This is one of the best books I have ever read. I cannot recommend it highly enough. 

 
 
 
 

 

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Invisible Monsters – Chuck Palahniuk

I liked the look of this book, and so had a look at the reviews for it on Amazon. Everyone was raving about it, so I decided to give it a go. Unfortunately I was very disappointed. It was really weird. The writing style grated on me, and I couldn’t really follow it. I gave up very early on – I have so many things I really want to read now that I no longer have time to persevere with unpromising books.

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1980s Booker Prize

Flying to Nowhere – John Fuller

Short listed for the Booker Prize 1983

‘Flying to Nowhere’ is set on a Welsh island, and is centred around a monastery. A church agent comes to the island to investigate the disappearance of pilgrims visiting a sacred well, while the local abbot is at his dissection table searching for the location of the soul.

 
I have no idea why this book was short listed for the Booker prize in 1983 – it is so dull!  
At only 88 pages long it was a very quick read, but it seemed to take ages, as there was nothing in the book that captivated me. The plot was very basic, the characters failed to engage me, and there was too much rumination on life, death, the spirit and the soul.
Not for me.
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October’s reading plans

My first task this month is to finish reading ‘A Fine Balance’ by Rohinton Mistry. I am really enjoying reading it, but at over 600 pages of tiny text, it may take me a while.

I’d also like to read ‘Purple Hibiscus’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, as I’ve heard so many good things about her books.

I’m then going to read ‘Flying to Nowhere’ by John Fuller. This was nominated for the Booker prize in 1983, so will put me another step closer to reading all the Booker nominees and winners. It is also a very short book, which is the main reason it has crept to the top of my reading pile this month!

My Amazon sellers book club suggestion for this month is ‘Beloved’ by Toni Morrison. I’m supposed to finish reading this by the end of October, but I have just ‘mooched’ it via www.bookmooch.com from someone in America, so it may be a while before it arrives!

In the meantime I’ll keep copying some reviews of my favourite 2008 reads onto this blog. Thanks for reading!

Jackie

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The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

‘The Red Tent’ is loosely based on the events that take place in the old testament of the Bible. It tells the story of Dinah’s life, and gives an insight into what life was like for women in this period of history.I was quite disappointed with this book. It is supposed to be a classic it is still in the top 4000 Amazon bestseller list 10 years after being published. I can’t understand why people are continuing to buy, and recommend this book to other people.

It was OK, but it lacked substance, and read a bit more like a diary than a novel. It was easy to read, but I got a bit bored with the continual births and long lists of who had which children. There was a good story buried in there somewhere, but it was underneath too much mundane information. There were too many characters to be able to empathize with them properly, and I’m not sure where the “Oldest love story never told” is?

I recommend you put this book to the bottom of your reading pile, and leave it there!

3 out of 5.

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1970s Booker Prize

The Elected Member – Bernice Rubens

‘The Elected Member’ won the Booker prize in 1971. It is the story of one man’s battle with drugs, and how his family cope with having a drug addict as part of the family. Norman is a bright, young Jewish boy living in a tight knit family in London’s East end. He has a promising law career ahead of him, but when a tragic event occurs Norman’s life begins to fall apart. His family struggle to deal with the series of events that follow. The story is told from each member of the family’s point of view. It is very moving, and although I have no personal experience of drug abuse it all seems very vivid and realistic. The drug taking is not glorified, as it can be in some books, and although Norman comes across as a deeply troubled man, you feel great sympathy for his situation.

I was totally gripped by this book. My only criticism is that there is no joy to be found anywhere. It leaves you feeling quite deflated and depressed. The writing is very accomplished, and even though you don’t necessarily want to be there, you are transported into the world completely. The descriptions of Norman’s hallucinations were particularly realistic.

Highly recommended – but have a box of tissues handy!!
4 out of 5 (point removed because it was so depressing!)