Man Booker at 50: 1999-2008

The prize’s fourth decade marked the first time, in 2001, that the longlist was revealed to the world at large. It decade also marked two second wins for previous winners, Carey and Coetzee, who both won for the first time in the 1980s. In 2008, it was the fortieth anniversary of the prize. Once again…

Man Booker at 50: 1989-1998

During the prize’s third decade, for the second time in its history, two books tied for top spot in 1992. Then, in 1993, the prize turned twenty-five. To celebrate, three previous judges met to choose a “Booker of Bookers”. They picked Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children from 1981. In 1998, for the Prize’s thirtieth birthday, Booker…

Man Booker at 50: 1979-1988

The second decade of the prize, apart from producing the “Booker of Bookers” in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, was enlivened by some tight judging decisions. In 1980, it was William Golding vs Anthony Burgess with Earthly Powers – and apparently Burgess refused to attend the presentation unless he was told in advance whether he had…

Man Booker at 50: 1969-1978

When the Booker Prize was inaugurated, prizes for literature were rather looked down upon, they just didn’t make much impact. Tom Maschler looked at the huge success of the French Prix Goncourt, and campaigned for an English prize with the aim of stimulating interest in British literature. Convinced this idea had legs, he started to…

He by John Connolly (pbk)

Reviewed by Annabel When I first started reading this book, I hadn’t appreciated it was by ‘John’ Connolly of the Charlie Parker crime novels, I mis-read the author’s forename, thinking it was ‘Joseph’ Connolly. That was an easy mistake to make, for this marvellous book by John Connolly would more naturally fit with the previous…

Caroline’s Bikini by Kirsty Gunn

Reviewed by Harriet ‘Alright’ I said, ‘I’ll try’…’But I’ve never done this kind of thing before’ is what I would have said next, I’m sure, as it still seems a strange thing to do, be involved in this kind of writing, the sort of project that was being suggested to me by Evan now. ‘I…

The Overstory by Richard Powers

Review by Peter Reason This is a novel about the place of humans in the living world. Too serious, too philosophical, you might say? But this is also a gripping adventure story in which the lives of nine human protagonists are entwined with each other in dramatic action to prevent the destruction of ancient forests.…

Old Baggage by Lissa Evans

Reviewed by Julie Barham There are some books which are so good that I struggle to find words to suggest how much I appreciate them, and this is one of them. A novel with a big agenda in some ways, yet carefully controlled as the story of a few women who are struggling in a…

84K by Claire North

Reviewed by David Harris Trying to sum up this book, and North’s writing, in a discussion with a friend on Twitter recently, I said that she is a remarkable writer, doing extraordinary things. There’s a sense in which case I ought perhaps to stop there because I find that – like many of the books…

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

Reviewed by Lucy Unwin I can’t remember seeing a more perfect cover for a book in a while. Everything you need to know about The Water Cure is there. The obscure water hiding all manner of unknowable things. The girl vulnerable, head lifted, neck exposed. The fleshiness, with the female body at the centre of everything. The…

The Sing of the Shore by Lucy Wood

Reviewed by Helen Parry I have been a fan of Lucy Wood’s writing since reading her début collection of short stories, Diving Belles, and so I was thrilled to see that she was publishing a new book. The Sing of the Shore, like Diving Belles, is a collection of stories all rooted very firmly in…

Star of the North by D B John

Reviewed by Annabel Very few westerners get to visit North Korea, and DB John is one of them – he’s seen the public face of this secretive place from the inside, although he acknowledges that his visit ‘barely scratched the surface’. Now he’s written a thriller about the country and his timing couldn’t be better…

House of Beauty by Melba Escobar de Nogales

Translated by Elizabeth Bryer Reviewed by Basil Ransome Davies Each time I walk into town from my house I pass at least one nail/beauty salon/spa/bar/studio (the titles variously inflect the appeal). Spread around the town are up to a dozen. Such places are not for elderly geezers, but I do occasionally reflect on the roaring…

The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales by Kirsty Logan

One of a series of reviews republished from the Shiny Archive of Issue 1 to celebrate our 4th birthday Reviewed by David Hebblethwaite Open Kirsty Logan’s debut collection, and you’ll be met first with the title story, which broadly sets the tone for what is to come. The Rental Heart takes us to a version…

White Houses by Amy Bloom

Reviewed by Susan Osborne I’ve yet to read anything by Amy Bloom that I’ve not loved. Her writing is both deft and empathetic, pressing all my literary buttons. Spanning a weekend in April 1945, shortly after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, White Houses tells the story of his wife Eleanor and Lorena Hickok, the…

Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey

Reviewed by Harriet Four years after Emma Healey’s best selling Elizabeth is Missing (reviewed here) comes her second novel, Whistle in the Dark. It’s a psychological thriller of sorts, but don’t expect any murders. This is an exploration of the troubled mind of a mother who can’t solve the mystery of her teenage daughter’s disappearance.…

Edgar and Lucy by Victor Lodato

Reviewed by Alice Farrant For seven years, Florence, Lucy and Edgar have lived in the wake of Frank’s death. No one mentions Frank’s passing and so Grandmother, Daughter-in-law and Son live under the weight of the grief Frank left behind. When Florence dies Lucy is forced to face a reality she has been avoiding, and…

The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal

Reviewed by Alice Farrant Mona lives a quiet life as a dollmaker.  At face value she appears to be an ordinary woman, but in private she runs a side-service helping grieving mothers overcome the loss of a child. As she begins a new romance she is pulled back to her past in 70s Birmingham where…

Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday

Reviewed by Harriet Asymmetry is defined as ‘lack of equality or equivalence between parts’, a definition that applies both to a theme of this brilliant debut novel and to its structure. As anyone who’s read a review of the book will know, it’s divided into three parts, the first two of which appear to be…

The Smiling Man by Joseph Knox

Reviewed by Annabel When Knox’s debut Sirens, which I reviewed here, was published in January 2017, it caused ripples. Here was a perfectly formed first novel, a crime thriller with a disgraced detective at its heart set in the nighttime economy of Manchester. I described it as ‘The Wire meets Line of Duty in Manchester’. It remained the…