Tuesday, 11 February 2020

The January shortlist

The January shortlist....

‘But when you boil a story down, you end up with something macabre. All stories end the same way, don’t they?’ Rebecca Makkai

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (2018)

Alternative chapters set in 1980s Chicago and Paris in the mid 2000s chart the AIDS crisis and the impact on one particular family. Epic in scale and forensic in detail yet not fully achieving the emotional depth the subject really deserves 3/5

Until the Coffee Gets Cold
by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (2018)

A brilliant premise that shines a light on the challenges of an ageing society and the shadow of dementia. But the novel is flawed by a tripartite structure that feels written for the stage. Hoped for more from a Japanese bestseller 2/5

Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner (2011)

Ben Lerner’s brand of auto-fiction won’t be for everyone but this is an original novel about a poetry student (and flâneur) floating around Madrid, visiting the Prado, reading Lorca, faking Spanish and contemplating the purpose of life. What’s not to love? 4/5

Under The Net by Iris Murdoch (1954)

Iris Murdoch’s evergreen debut novel is as fresh today as when first published in 1954. Episodic comedy wrapped up in philosophical criticism; the novel explores the unexpected on the streets on London. One to read and read again 4/5