One of the best books I've read about Scotland and its future, Riddoch speaks of the country as it stands at the moment.
Written prior to the IndependOne of the best books I've read about Scotland and its future, Riddoch speaks of the country as it stands at the moment.
Written prior to the Independence Referendum and objectively neutral (although the author's desires are clear), Blossom can be a depressing read at times, but it also provides an encouraging look at what can be done to improve the lives of millions of Scots....more
V.S. Naipaul’s 1971 novel, In a Free State is my least favourite Booker Prize winner, so far. I didn’t hate it, but I was almost two-thirds of the wayV.S. Naipaul’s 1971 novel, In a Free State is my least favourite Booker Prize winner, so far. I didn’t hate it, but I was almost two-thirds of the way through the tale before it began to engage at all, and that’s not a good sign.
It’s a depressing read, full of unlikeable characters, and is based in a country viewed, and narrated through, the eyes of people who have very little love for Africa or its people.
"They say there’s good and bad everywhere. There’s no good and bad here. They’re just Africans. They do what they have to do. That’s what you have to tell yourself. You can’t hate them. You can’t even get angry with them."
Bobby and Linda are our protaganists; two people who don’t like each other and are subsequently very hard to like themselves. Their road-trip is the basis for the novel, and it takes place in an Africa all set to rebel against its Empirical overlords. From the start of their journey, homeward bound after their visit to a corporate conference, In a Free State describes their torrid relationship, and the countryside through which they travel.
He needed to be calmer. Acknowledging the need, he became calmer.
It does both successfully, and it’s not without its positive aspects. At times, Naipaul’s prose is a pleasure to read, but, much like Bobby and Linda, it wasn’t enough to get me to the Collectorate with a smile on my face....more
JG Farrell’s Troubles is the third Man Booker Prize winner, although technically, it was only awarded in 2010, as the Lost Man Booker Prize.
"It may beJG Farrell’s Troubles is the third Man Booker Prize winner, although technically, it was only awarded in 2010, as the Lost Man Booker Prize.
"It may be four decades overdue, but at least JG Farrell’s Lost Booker triumph will bring his work of genius to the wider audience it deserves." - Guardian, May 2010
“Work of genius” can be overused, but I wouldn’t argue with anyone claiming that Farrell's debut novel falls into this category. It has the feeling of a classic; a darkly comic classic that I’m sure I’ll revisit.
Set in and around the hotel Majestic in the town of Kilnalough, Ireland, Troubles doesn’t focus solely on the political upheaval of the time, but the repercussions of World War I, and the Easter Rising of 1916 are key.
The book opens with Major Brendan Foster making his way to Ireland, planning to marry his fiancée. On his arrival, he has to deal with death, marriage, sectarianism, madness, murder, and a seemingly endless number of old ladies, all while the hotel he might have expected to inherit (and much more besides) crumbles around him. In short, his World starts falling apart, acutely mirroring the sanity of those around him, as well as the political state of the country in which this book is set.
Troubles is fantastic, and certainly the best of the three Booker Prize winners I’ve read so far. It’s the first of Farrell’s Empire trilogy, and I’ll be revisiting his work shortly, as number 2 in the series won 1973’s award.