International Man Booker Prize – My Pick for the Win

Well, team, it has been six weeks of epic reading. But the prize will be announced tomorrow, and it’s time to pick a side.

Full disclosure: I did not manage to finish the last of the six books – ‘Like a Fading Shadow’ sadly eluded me at the end. I’m exactly halfway through.

It’s true that it may have one heck of an ending, but barring that possibility I’m afraid my mind was made up some time ago as to which book I think should win.

Who I think will win

Olga Tokarczuk’s fairly epic ‘Flights’ must surely pick up the gong.

It’s wholly original – it will be like nothing you’ve ever read before, or ever will again – beautifully written, and manages to create something flowing out of seemingly disparate fragments.

It’s certainly weird. But somehow it also seems relevant, capturing small truths that come to mean something far bigger. Not only did I learn much from ‘Flights’, it’s a book I’m sure I will return to and will often think of – especially whilst in transit.

I must also call out Jennifer Croft’s excellent translation, which read very naturally and wasn’t stuffed full of idioms the way so many are.

Who I think should win, but probably won’t

I have a soft spot for ‘Vernon Subutex’.

It was probably the easiest read on the list (only partly why I liked it), but was also entertaining, funny and extremely sharp.

Virgine Despentes also takes you on a huge nostalgia trip to Paris, which anyone who has glory days to relive can relate to. I am only twenty-seven, so I can only imagine the sensation of being old enough to have glory days (this is a lie, mostly I watch Netflix and eat chocolate now).

It was definitely the novel I most enjoyed out of the list, and I would love to see it recognised. I can see it being enduringly popular.

Best of the rest

Han Kang’s ‘The White Book’ was excellent and only missed out on my top spot because I personally found the subject matter a little depressing (although beautifully so).

For a book I was expecting to find unbearable, it turned out to be pretty majestic. Highly recommended, especially for those of a poetical persuasion.

‘Frankenstein in Baghdad’ by Ahmed Saadawi was a genius concept filled with dark humour. Certainly original and very interesting to a person who knows very little about what life in Iraq was like while we were stomping our muddy boots all over it.

However, for me the tension lapsed slightly at times, meaning it was hard to get fully immersed. Give it a go if you are interested in a unique perspective on the 2003 invasion.

I am not fully qualified to comment on Antonio Muñoz Molina’s ‘Like a Fading Shadow’ at this point – review will be up in a couple of days – but so far I’m liking it; there is a sort of meta thing going on where half the story is about the author himself and the process of writing which I think could appeal to the Man Booker judges. There’s an outside chance this one could win, and if so, I will be annoyed that I read it last.

And last but by no means least, ‘The World Goes On‘. Good grief, what a book. And when I say ‘book’, I mean ‘ordeal’. Read my full review for more details of a slightly more forgiving nature.

So that’s it, guys! ‘Flights’ is my pick for the win – I hope the judges don’t find it too wacky to award the prize to. However, I’d be equally (and perhaps more) delighted to see Vernon Subutex sneak out from left field to claim it.

Anyone else excited to hear the winner tomorrow?


By golly gosh I got it right!!

Huge congratulations to Olga Tokarczuk and Jennifer Croft for a very well deserved win for Flights.

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