I am currently making my way through the 2014 Man Booker Prize shortlist and WHOA! is it ever different than any other year’s shortlist. Last year’s choices were highly ‘literary’: decidedly tough reads (Testament of Mary, The Luminaries), often long reads (The Luminaries), and not for the faint of heart. This year’s books are (so far) surprisingly ‘lighter’ reads. Not to say they don’t cover deep and meaningful content; they just seem easier to get through. NoViolet Bulawayo’s (pen name of Elizabeth Zandile Tshele) We Need New Names traces a character’s maturation from war-torn Zimbabwe to her later life in Michigan and veers towards some very serious and disturbing events (and thankfully veers away before the metaphorical crashes). Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves recounts the story of a dysfunctional family unlike any I’ve ever met before. Both were enjoyable to read (unlike the struggle I’m currently facing with Joshua Ferris’ book To Rise Again at a Decent Hour).
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves took me completely by surprise plot-wise, so this is the note I wrote after reading:
I am so thankful I read this before anyone told me about it, or before I read any spoilers. I’m not sure I would have picked it up had I known. However, I’m glad I did. I am usually the reader that pieces the mystery together as the story progresses, but this time, I was completely caught off-guard on the Fern reveal. Did I miss something along the way? Did YOU know? (Maybe I should have looked more closely at the cover! – Seriously, take a look at the cover and tell me what the book is about, because clearly I am the least observant person on the planet)
I enjoyed the plot and the characters and the mystery/detective genre for the content. I also loved all the research that went into it. That last few chapters were way too rushed for me; they unraveled too quickly. Otherwise, I enjoyed it. You?