Reading is one of my favorite hobbies. This page lists all the books that I read that won (or was shortlisted for) the booker prize
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Nightcrawling cover
by Leila Mottley
My review: When the book club at work I lead selected this book I was quite curious. I have heard that it was quite good, and it is set in the town I live, so I was quite intrigued. I became even more interested when I learned that it was inspired by a true story.
Kiara and her brother, Marcus, are scraping by in an East Oakland apartment complex optimistically called the Regal-Hi. Both have dropped out of high school, their family fractured by death and prison. But while Marcus clings to his dream of rap stardom, Kiara hunts for work to pay their rent--which has more than doubled--and to keep the nine-year-old boy next door, abandoned by his mother, safe and fed. One night, what begins as a drunken misunderstanding with a stranger turns into the job Kiara never imagined wanting but now desperately needs: nightcrawling. Her world breaks open even further when her name surfaces in an investigation that exposes her as a key witness in a massive scandal within the Oakland Police Department.
The book is masterfully written and shed lights to topics and situations that are never discussed enough. I do recommend it to everyone, especially if you live in the USA. (★★★★★)
Started: Jan 01 2023 Finished: Jan 16 2023
The Blind Assassin cover
The Blind Assassin
by Margaret Atwood (2001)
My review: I had read and enjoyed The Handmaid's Tale, and I was quite curious to read this booker prize winner book by the same author. The book definitely earned the award, Atwood is clearly a master of the craft, adroitly waving a complex, multilayered, story-within-a-story-within-a-story masterpiece.
While the book refuses an easy genre classification, the book is, among other things, a mystery novel, with clues and hints cleverly spread along the way to prepare for revelations / plot twists. Some of those clues are adroitly crafted so that, while true, they will misdirect you.
The book starts with a death: "Ten days after the war ended, my sister drove a car off the bridge." They are spoken by Iris, one of the main characters and the main point of view of the entire book. After her sister Laura's death in 1945 an inquest report proclaims the death accidental. But just as the reader expects to settle into Laura's story, Atwood introduces a novel-within-a-novel. Entitled The Blind Assassin, it is a science fiction story told by two unnamed lovers who meet in dingy backstreet rooms. When we return to Iris, it is through a 1947 newspaper article announcing the discovery of a sailboat carrying the dead body of her husband, a distinguished industrialist...
It's hard to say more or to comment without spoiling the story, so I will just say that this book proves once again that Atwood is one of the most talented, daring, and exciting writers of our time. (★★★★)
Started: Sep 29 2020 Finished: Oct 28 2020
The Vegetarian cover
The Vegetarian
by Han Kang
My review: I was browsing through my local library list of popular books when I ran into this novella. The cover was intriguing, and the title was familiar: a google search quickly reminded me I read rave reviews of it when it won the first new Man Booker International Prize in 2016. I decided to give it a try, and I was quickly trapped: while the book is not what would be my usual cup of tea, it soon deeply captivated me. The main character of the story is Yeong-hye, a woman that before a nightmare, lived a quite ordinary life. But when splintering, blood-soaked images start haunting her thoughts, Yeong-hye decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. In a country where societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye's decision to embrace a more "plant-like" existence is a shocking act of subversion. And as her passive rebellion manifests in ever more extreme and frightening forms, scandal, abuse, and estrangement begin to send Yeong-hye spiraling deep into the spaces of her fantasy. In a complete metamorphosis of both mind and body, her now dangerous endeavor will take Yeong-hye, impossibly, ecstatically, tragically, far from her once-known self altogether.
When I finished to book I find myself confused. I felt like some big truth was shown to me, but I was unable to grasp it. Maybe the truth that is shown is too complex to grasp. (★★★★★)
Started: Apr 06 2018 Finished: Apr 12 2018
Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell, #1) cover
Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell, #1)
by Hilary Mantel (2010)
My review: This is the beginning of one of the most intriguing historical series of the century, the only series to ever win twice the Man Booker Prize for best novel. This is the story of Thomas Cromwell, from his humble beginning as an abused and violent kid, to the most powerful man in Henry VIII England. England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph? (★★★★)
Started: Aug 05 2016 Finished: Sep 11 2016
Cloud Atlas cover
Cloud Atlas
by David Mitchell (2004)
My review: I do not know why this book touched me so deeply, but it really did.
In Cloud Atlas Humans are Devils, always prone to enslave, kill, and slaughter. Humans are always ready to take away the dignity of others in the name of a Natural Order that determines that people of color, homosexuals, old, cloned people, or members of other tribes are not even worthy of the title of "men". This is demonstrated over and over 6 times in the 6 different stories (the number 6 recurrence in the book is significant).
But the Humans of Cloud Atlas are also Divine, because over and over, experiencing and witnessing small acts of kindness and incredible acts of self-sacrifice they come to realize that all these Natural Order boundaries are just human made conventions. Our lives are the result of all our choices, all our encounters. We are all bound together, each little act of kindness, each mistake goes beyond our lifetime and affects all humanity and the future. And so it is that a little act of kindness on a San Francisco bound ship will ultimately bring salvation to the Human race in a very far future.
Selected quotes:
Our lives and our choices, each encounter, suggest a new potential direction. Yesterday my life was headed in one direction. Today, it is headed in another. Fear, belief, love, phenomena that determined the course of our lives. These forces begin long before we are born and continue long after we perish. Yesterday, I believe I would have never have done what I did today. I feel like something important has happened to me. Is this possible?
Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future. (★★★★★)
Started: Sep 30 2012 Finished: Oct 20 2012
Life of Pi cover
Life of Pi
by Yann Martel
My review: It's quite hard to review this book without giving away any spoiler, and this is a great book that does not deserve to be spoiled. I still remember seeing it in the "reccomended" section of my local bookstore, picking it up with interest and putting it down thinking "what? a story about somebody being stuck on a boat? It has to be boring". Oh I was wrong! The book is actually quite captivating, so fascinating that you find yourself still reading it in the middle of the night thinking "it's late, but let's read another one of these short chapters". As the story progresses, I found myself captivated, and at its conclusion deeply shaken and shocked. (★★★★★)
Started: Jul 29 2012 Finished: Aug 04 2012
The Night Watch cover
The Night Watch
by Sarah Waters
My review: The Night Watch is the story of four commoners in World War II London, coping with personal and historical tragedies during air raids, black-outs and rationing. It is a story of loss, illicit affairs, desperation, hope, and love. Historical novels and movies have the tendency to be epic, to turn the characters into heroes, events into epics. As a result it is hard to identify with the characters, to understand what was like to live those events. The Night Watch does not fall in that trap. Its WWII London and its characters are just commoners, with common weaknesses, hopes, fears and tragedies. As a result it is impossible to not identify with them. It is impossible to not experience all the horrors, the destruction, the fears they experience, or not to share their hopes or their joy for historically insignificant but extremely real events. The result is an extremely powerful novel, able to shake the reader to the core. (★★★★★)
Started: Oct 10 2010 Finished: Dec 04 2010
The Master cover
The Master
by Colm Tóibín
My review: Like Michael Cunningham in The Hours, Colm Toibin captures the extraordinary mind and heart of a great writer. Beautiful and profoundly moving, The Master tells the story of a man born into one of America's first intellectual families who leaves his country in the late nineteenth century to live in Paris, Rome, Venice, and London among privileged artists and writers. In stunningly resonant prose, Toibin captures the loneliness and the hope of a master of psychological subtlety whose forays into intimacy inevitably failed those he tried to love. (★★★★)
Started: Apr 03 2010 Finished: May 09 2010