The Guardian’s “Not The Booker” shortlist revealed

Not The Booker Prize was created by The Guardian Newspaper as a reaction to the controversial ‘Man Booker Prize’ judging process.

The Man Booker Prize judging process is considered controversial as the ‘best book’ is being chosen by such a small number of literary ‘experts’. The Guardian decided to introduce “Not the Booker Prize” as a way to help readers feel more in control of these literary prizes. Each book is nominated by readers, and each stage of the judging is determined by readers also.

Author Amit Chaudhuri wrote:

“The idea that a ‘book of the year’ can be assessed annually by a bunch of people – judges who have to read almost a book a day – is absurd, as is the idea that this is any way of honouring a writer.”

The Guardian’s shortlist this year is a very exciting list of six titles, whittled down from a full list of nominations.

“A young man named Levi McAllister decides to build a coffin for his twenty-three-year-old sister, Charlotte-who promptly runs for her life. A water rat swims upriver in quest of the cloud god. A fisherman named Karl hunts for tuna in partnership with a seal. And a father takes form from fire.

The answers to these riddles are to be found in this tale of grief and love and the bonds of family, tracing a journey across the southern island that takes us full circle.

Flames sings out with joy and sadness. Utterly original in conception, spellbinding in its descriptions of nature and its celebration of the power of language, it announces the arrival of a thrilling new voice in contemporary fiction.” 

“A strange virus is sweeping the globe. Humans have become allergic to one another. Simply standing next to somebody could be a death sentence. A kiss could be fatal.

Angela is a woman trying to get by in this bewildering new world. Though she still lives with her husband and children, they lead separate lives. Confined to their rooms, they communicate via their computers and phones. In some ways, very little has changed.

That is, until she spots a mysterious stranger walking through town without even a face mask for protection. A man, it seems, immune to this disease. A man unlike anyone else she knows. A man it might just be safe to touch…” 

“The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas is the story of a journalist searching for the truth about a reclusive artist through 60 years of unreality. A chilling literary labyrinth, the book combines postmodern noir with pseudo-biography, letters, phone transcripts, emails and newspaper clippings.

Ezra Maas is dead. The famously reclusive artist vanished without a trace seven years ago while working on his final masterpiece, but his body was never found. While the Maas Foundation prepares to announce his death, journalist Daniel James finds himself hired to write the untold story of the artist’s life. But this is no ordinary book. The deeper James delves into the myth, the more he is drawn into a nightmarish world of fractured identities and sinister doubles, where art and reality have become dangerously blurred…”

“Please Read This Leaflet Carefully follows Laura Fjellstad in her struggles to live a normal life. Having been diagnosed with severe endometriosis in her twenties, she believes that the only way to survive her painful and debilitating illness is to be completely self-reliant. In between doctors appointments and in and out of hospitals, Laura confronts single parenting after her divorce, leading a life of which her own teenage self would be in awe.

After many years of enduring pain and the persistent feeling of never being understood, Laura navigates her own sexuality and her unrecognised chronic condition the best she can, forced to question her beliefs as she learns to find a certain peace, even in an impossible situation. Figure skating has been her salvation together with her writing and the dream of escaping Norway and moving to NYC.”

“What unites Katherine Mansfield, Charlie Chaplin, Shakespeare, Rilke, Beethoven, Brexit, the present, the past, the north, the south, the east, the west, a man mourning lost times, a woman trapped in modern times?

Spring. The great connective.

With an eye to the migrancy of story over time, and riffing on Pericles, one of Shakespeare’s most resistant and rollicking works, Ali Smith tells the impossible tale of an impossible time. In a time of walls and lockdown Smith opens the door.

The time we’re living in is changing nature. Will it change the nature of story?

Hope springs eternal.”

“Twenty-nine year old Roberta has spent her whole life hungry – until the day she invents Supper Club.

Supper Club is a secret society for hungry women. Women who are sick of bad men and bad sex, of hinted expectations to talk less, take less, be less. So they gather after dark and feast until they are sick. They drink and dance and roar. And, month by month, their bodies expand.

At the centre of the Supper Club stands Roberta – cynical yet anxious, precocious and lost. She is seeking the answer to a simple question: if you feed a starving woman, what will she grow into?

This is a story about the hunger that never goes away. And it is a story about the people who make us what we are – who lead us astray and ultimately save us.

You look hungry.

Join the club.”

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