Man Booker at 50: 2009-2017

And finally, this fifth decade brings us up to date with previous winners of the Man Booker Prize. In 2010, the organisation decided to create “The Lost Booker” to celebrate books that missed out due to a change in the prize’s rules over publication dates. As previously, a shortlist was drawn up and put to…

Man Booker at 50: The ones that got away

It’s not always the case (or often?) that judges and readers are all in agreement on longlists, let alone the shortlists or eventual winners of literary prizes. Here we look at a few of those shortlisted books and authors that our reviewers feel should have won. Let us know if you agree, and do tell…

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…

Vocations by Gerald O’Donovan

Reviewed by Julie Barham This Irish novel, originally published in 1921, reprinted by Handheld Press, is a tremendously engaging read. Dealing with the fates of two girls in Catholic Ireland, it is a searing picture of the way that the established church worked in small communities dominated by priests and the local convent. Moreover, it…

The Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers

Translated by Margot Bettauer Dembo Reviewed by Gill Davies The Seventh Cross is set in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and was first published in German in 1942. Seghers was a Communist, of Jewish descent, and escaped to Mexico with her husband and children in 1940. The novel was published there, and in the United…

A Dead Rose by Aurora Cáceres

Translation, Foreword & Notes by Laura Kanost Reviewed by Karen Langley The female form is often idealised in art and media, from classical sculptures through paintings and in more modern times with fashion photography and the general objectification of women. It takes a brave woman to take on those stereotypes and play with them, which…

The Murder of My Aunt by Richard Hull

Reviewed by Harriet ‘From its first appearance in 1934, Richard Hull’s The Murder of my Aunt was recognised as something special in crime fiction’. So says Martin Edwards in his introduction to this recent reissue in the British Library Crime Classics series. The novel was highly praised when it first came out, and was much admired…

Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima

Translated by Geraldine Harcourt Reviewed by Annabel This latest addition to Penguin Classic’s expanding list of new translations in an upmarket paperback format is a beguiling novella following the story of a young mother and her young daughter after she has separated from her husband. It was originally published during the late 1970s in installments…

Blood on the Tracks: Railway Mysteries edited by Martin Edwards

Reviewed by Karen Langley Golden Age crime, which has had such a revival recently, is renowned for particular tropes and settings; the country house location or the locked room mystery are often featured, but another very popular backdrop is trains. So many famous mysteries are set on trains, Murder on the Orient Express being the…

The Akeing Heart by Peter Haring Judd

Reviewed by Simon How you approach The Akeing Heart will depend largely on how familiar you are with the names Sylvia Townsend Warner, Valentine Ackland, and Elizabeth Wade White. These three are in the subtitle of the book, which declares itself to be their letters. If this is the first you’ve heard of them, or you’ve…

From the Archives: Autobiography of a Corpse by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky

One of a series of reviews republished from the Shiny Archive of Issue 1 to celebrate our 4th birthday Translated by Joanne Turnbull Reviewed by Karen Langley Soviet Russia’s Best-Kept Literary Secret Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky could accurately be described as the lost writer of Russia’s Soviet era. Born in the Ukraine in 1887, after attending Kiev…

The Golovlevs by M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin

Translated by I.P. Foote Reviewed by Karen Langley Back in SNB #13 I reviewed The History of a Town by Saltykov-Shchedrin, one of the great Russian satirists of the 19th century. That book is regarded as a major work of the era; and now the Apollo imprint of House of Zeus (who issued History…) has followed…

British Library Science Fiction Classics edited by Mike Ashley

Moonrise: The Golden Age of Lunar Adventures Lost Mars: The Golden Age of the Red Planet   Reviewed by Karen Langley There can’t be many readers of Shiny New Books who aren’t aware of the lovely British Library Crime Classics series: long out-of-print and forgotten novels and short stories from the golden age of crime…

The Town Major of Miraucourt by J.B. Priestley

Reviewed by Julie Barham This is a small book, covering the only writing published by the well – known author and broadcaster J.B. Priestley concerning his service as a soldier in the First World War. He volunteered as soon as possible, suffered many life threatening situations, and was finally injured by gas in the summer…

Desire by Una Silberrad

Reviewed by Julie Barham This book by the seemingly prolific writer, Silberrad, is an excellent read not only for its time, 1908, but a relevant read for today. Seen as a ‘New Woman’ novel for its depiction of Desire, the female protagonist, as a strong, independently minded woman who rises above her varying situations, it is…

Ice by Anna Kavan

 Reviewed by Karen Langley Ice has come a long way since its first publication by its champion, Peter Owen, in 1968. My initial encounter with it was in a striking Picador edition from 1973, which I picked up in the early 1980s and still have on my shelves, although the pages are now browning and fragile.…

FAME IS THE SPUR BY HOWARD SPRING

Reviewed by Rebecca Foster   Fame Is the Spur (originally published in 1940) is the second out-of-print Howard Spring novel reissued by Head of Zeus’s Apollo imprint, following last year’s release of My Son, My Son. Spring is best known for his family sagas: My Son, My Son had autobiographical inspiration and concerned a writer…

The Guesthouse at the Sign of the Teetering Globe by Franziska Zu Reventlow

Translated by  James J. Conway Reviewed by Lizzy Siddal Countess Franziska zu Reventlow was born into the German nobility, and lived in the castle at Husum in Schleswig-Holstein, where none other than Theodor Storm, writer of the beloved but ghostly Schimmelreiter (Rider of the White Horse/Dykemaster, depending on which English translation you read) , used to…

The Runagates Club by John Buchan

Reviewed by Julie Barham This is a splendid book for all those who revel in the scary, the heroic and the unusual. Anyone familiar with John Buchan’s best known novel, The 39 Steps, will know that it contains a lot of chasing around Scotland and unusual events, combining humour and the fear that capture and…

City Folk and Country Folk by Sofia Khvoshchinskaya

Translated by Nora Seligman Favorov Reviewed by Karen Langley If asked to name any of the great Russian writers of the 19th century, most Anglophone readers would probably come up with Dostoevsky or Gogol or Turgenev or Tolstoy – all men. However, as is becoming increasing clear, the male gender did not have the monopoly…

Demian by Hermann Hesse

Translated by W. J. Strachan Reviewed by Karen Langley Is it the destiny of mankind to be pulled constantly back and forth between the two poles of good and evil, and can this disjuncture ever be remedied? That’s the concept explored in this seminal novel by Nobel-prize winning author Hermann Hesse, first published in 1919…