I have read five of the six novels on the Booker shortlist that was announced today and I agree with the judges about four of the choices.
Anne Tyler's A Spool of Blue Thread is excellent. So good I bought a copy so I can re-read it.
Chigozie Obioma's novel, The Fishermen, is powerful. Another good choice.
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James, which is about the attempt to assassinate Bob Marley in 1976, is a very difficult book, partly because so much of it is written in Jamaican patois, because the language is so profane, and because the violence in Jamaica, which continues, is so heartbreaking. I like the doctor bird, a national symbol of the country, on the cover.
A Little Life, a book entirely about men written by a woman, Hanya Yanagihara, is my choice for the Booker award this year. It's brilliant. It's also 720 pages long.
I read Tom McCarthy's Satin Island, the shortest of the books on this list at about 150 pages. It was the hardest for me to get through. I don't understand it and I really didn't want to bother. This either got on the list by mistake or it's a brilliant book and I entirely missed the point.
And finally, The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota. This book will not be published in the US until March of 2016. I would really like to read it but it would cost me $20 to get a copy now and I'd rather use the money to buy a copy of The Fishermen or A Little Life so I could re-read them.
Among the other books on the longlist I've read The Illuminations by Andrew O'Hagan, The Green Road by Anne Enright, and Lila by Marilynne Robinson, all of which are more worthy than Satin Island, especially the Robinson book.
What do you think of this year's shortlist choices?