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Spies
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Booker Prize for Fiction > 2002 Longlist: Spies and General Discussion

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Hugh (bodachliath) | 3103 comments Mod
This topic is an extension of the 2002 Man Booker Shortlist discussion, firstly to cover Spies, which won the poll to determine which of the longlisted books we would discuss, and also to discuss anything else on the longlist.


message 2: by Hugh (last edited Oct 19, 2017 08:12AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3103 comments Mod
I have not read Spies yet, but I have just read two of the four books I have from the longlist. The Next Big Thing was interesting but not the best starting point for anyone interested in Brookner, and Dorian was very entertaining and quite clever if rather tasteless. My favourite 2002 book If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things also lost out at the longlist stage (plus ça change), and The Autograph Man is probably the least interesting of Zadie Smith's novels.
The other two which I intend to read soon are Shroud and Any Human Heart.


Trevor (mookse) | 1842 comments Mod
Thanks for adding this, Hugh! I blush since I should have done it a couple of weeks ago!

I have read Spies, and I think it's a strong book, though I did not like it nearly as much as I like Frayn's 1999 Booker shortlisted Headlong (but significantly more than his 2012 Booker longlisted Skios). Spies is a complicated look at memory and secrets, and how adolescents in particular (but not exclusively) misunderstand, leading to more secrets and uncomfortable memories.


message 4: by Ang (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ang | 1685 comments I think Spies may have been the first Frayn I read. I loved it and I think it is still my favourite. Frayn is one of those authors who impresses me with his versatility. I was less enamoured with Skios, not a fan of farce.


Hugh (bodachliath) | 3103 comments Mod
I finished Any Human Heart on Sunday, and although it has its moments and is an enjoyable read in places, it would not be in my top six as for me it was uneven and lacked coherence.


Hugh (bodachliath) | 3103 comments Mod
I have just read Shroud, and found it very impressive, though I suspect some of it went over my head. It was probably unlucky to miss the shortlist.


message 7: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Pool I re-read Any Human Heart, ten years after my first go, and I agree with you Hugh. It is a somewhat disjointed book. Good in parts.
Boyd has made a speciality of writing "Whole life stories", and Any Human Heart is his most popular one of this type - this is his "intimate journal" and sits alongside autobiographical and biographical workings on the subject.
Any Human Heart jumps from country to country, using real life historical backdrop a little too obviously to rate as a classic.
Long list Booker, but probably not a short lister.


Hugh (bodachliath) | 3103 comments Mod
I started Spies yesterday, and I am enjoying it so far. After that I will probably stop - I have too many other books on the shelf to want to add any more right now.


message 9: by Neil (new)

Neil | 1859 comments I remember reading Spies at the time and enjoying it. Unfortunately, despite a couple of searches of the house, it appears to be a book I have since given away.


message 10: by Hugh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3103 comments Mod
There are still 7 books on the longlist that I have not read but for me Spies was very unlucky to miss out - it really was a pleasure to read and rather charming. My shortlist would have been If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, The Story of Lucy Gault, Spies, Dorian, Unless and Life of Pi.


Meike (meikereads) I'm now 24 % in, and I really like "Spies" - it reminds me of "Atonement". I'm pretty sure that once I finish the book, I'll agree with Hugh that Frayn should have been shortlisted!


message 12: by Hugh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3103 comments Mod
I look forward to your review Meike - it would be nice to agree on something for a change!


message 13: by Trudie (new)

Trudie (trudieb) Meike wrote: "I'm now 24 % in, and I really like "Spies" - it reminds me of "Atonement". I'm pretty sure that once I finish the book, I'll agree with Hugh that Frayn should have been shortlisted!"

Reminds you of Atonement sounds promising ... as it's one of my favourite books. I might need to add this one. It would not be hard to convince me to replace Unless for virtually any other fairly competent novel from the longlist ;)

As a general question when do we start the advocacy process for the next round of Booker discussions ?


Meike (meikereads) Hugh wrote: "I look forward to your review Meike - it would be nice to agree on something for a change!"

Hey, we agreed on Home Fire, Solar Bones, Days Without End, Autumn...as far as I can see, we only disagreed on R 13 and Unless! :-)

Trudie wrote: "Reminds you of Atonement sounds promising ... as it's one of my favourite books. I might need to add this one. It would not be hard to convince me to replace Unless for virtually any other fairly competent novel from the longlist ;)"

Yes!! :-) From my point of view, the parallel between "Atonement" and "Spies" is that both discuss kids who make observations fueled by their childish imagination, draw certain conclusions and bring about terrible consequences (hasn't happened yet in "Spies", but I feel it coming). And the language is beautiful!

Trudie wrote: "As a general question when do we start the advocacy process for the next round of Booker discussions ? "

In this context: When does the readalong for the IMBP usually start?


message 15: by Hugh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3103 comments Mod
Trudie wrote: "As a general question when do we start the advocacy process for the next round of Booker discussions ?"
It's really up to Trevor but we did manage one in January/February this year and could probably do the same again.
I would use the original discussion thread here:
https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

Meike wrote: "Hey, we agreed on Home Fire, Solar Bones, Days Without End, Autumn...as far as I can see, w..."
I know, I was only joking!


Meike (meikereads) Okay guys, here's my review for "Spies" - why in the world wasn't this shortlisted? Lucy Gault is still ahead though.


message 17: by Dan (new) - added it

Dan Meike wrote: "Spies" - why in the world wasn't this shortlisted?"

Yes, Meike, I agree. Spies was shortlist-worthy, and I think that The Next Big Thing was also shortlist-worthy (I'll admit to being an Anita Brookner fan). I would have swapped out Family Matters or Unless, and perhaps even Dirt Music (although I did love the atmospherics).

That's it for my return to 2002. I'm looking forward to some free range reading during the next few months, although I am looking forward to the Republic of Consciousness shortlist and to another journey back to shortlists of past Booker years.


message 18: by Meike (last edited Dec 07, 2017 08:03AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Meike (meikereads) Dan wrote: "Yes, Meike, I agree. Spies was shortlist-worthy, and I think that The Next Big Thing was also shortlist-worthy..."

I think I might change my tactics now as well - usually, I like to complete the whole longlist/shortlist of a prize, but with the 2002 readalong, the Costa, the RoC and my massive TBR, I only have two choices: To ignore some lists entirely or to only read those parts of the lists that seem particularly appealing to me. That said, I will still read Fingersmith, but then I will probably call it a day on the 2002 list (I will have read 5 out of 7 then, including our wildcard nominee Spies).


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