2016 Man Booker Prize

It’s the end of September, kids are back in school, and my mental countdown to Halloween is almost at an end. October not only brings the greatest global holiday of them all (in my opinion); it brings us the 2016 Man Booker Prize, i.e. ‘the best book of the year’.

So, here are the contenders (shortlisted books in bold):

J.M. Coetzee’s The Schooldays of Jesus
A.L. Kennedy’s Serious Sweet
Ian McGuire’s The North Water
David Means’ Hystopia
Wyl Menmuir’s The Many
Virginia Reeves’ Work Like Any Other
Elizabeth Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton
Paul Beatty’s The Sellout
Ottessa Moshfegh’s Eileen
Deborah Levy’s Hot Milk
Madeleine Thein’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing
David Szalay’s All That Man Is
Graeme Macrae Burnett’s His Bloody Project

In my completely uneducated and wholly amatuer opinion, the ‘best book of the year’ should be the book that really got under your skin, that really left an impression with you. Since thirteen books is a bit much for one review post, I’ll cover the stories that stood out for me, for better or for worse. Any books that I’ve left out you can assume were a solid ‘meh’.

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REVIEW: The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker

‘A good book, Marcus, is a book you are sorry to have finished.’

p. 613, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair

So says the titular Harry Quebert in one of his many “life lessons” that preface The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair‘s chapters. By its own definition then this is not a good book. I was not sorry to finish this book, I was sorry I ever started it. If it weren’t for my compulsive need to find out exactly “whodunnit” and how at the end of every murder mystery I pick up I most likely would have abandoned Truth within the first one hundred pages for its problems are evident from fairly early on.

Truth begins with its protagonist, successful young writer Marcus Goldman, wallowing in writer’s block. Searching for inspiration he goes to visit his college mentor, Harry Quebert, writer of arguably the best novel of the twentieth century. Eventually, a body is found in Harry’s garden and he is arrested for the murder of Nola Kellergan, a fifteen year old girl who disappeared in 1975. Marcus then sets out to prove his friend’s innocence and possibly write his next bestseller while he’s at it.

SPOILER WARNING: Under the ‘Read More’ this article contains major spoilers for the plot of The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair. However, as I would not recommend actually reading this book, feel free to continue.

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REVIEW: The Muse by Jessie Burton

Note: I went to go and see Jessie Burton speak about The Muse at an event at Foyles, which I mention periodically in the review.

SPOILER WARNING: This review is spoiler free.

After the huge success of her debut novel The Miniaturist in 2014, expectations were high for Jessie Burton’s second novel The Muse, which triumphantly avoids the dreaded sophomore slump. After delivering a tense and rich depiction of 17th century Amsterdam in her debut, Burton is even more ambitious with The Muse, as it jumps between two different and distinct time frames; 1930’s Spain in the lead up to the civil war, and 1960’s London. Through her use of wonderfully vivid, lyrical language, truly intriguing characters and a cleverly woven mystery that will keep you guessing until the end, this fictional study of creativity, deception and identity truly paints a picture that you will never forget.

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GROUP REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II at The Palace Theatre

Welcome to Book Buds! To commemorate our first post we’ve decided to do an extra-specially long group review. This summer we were all lucky enough to get to go see the production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II at the Palace Theatre in London. We’ve gathered together some of our thoughts and opinions on the experience below the read more.

SPOILER WARNING: The following review contains major spoilers for both the plot and production details of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as well as the Harry Potter series in general. Read on at your own discretion.

Note: This is a review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as performed at the Palace Theatre not the published script of the play. While plot details found in the script are discussed, bear in mind our opinions are influenced by the experience of seeing the production on stage. 

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