This blog is specifically for comment on the Man Booker Prize for fiction, based in the U.K. There are, at the moment, six shortlisted books each year, and as I read them, I will offer my review, without revealing the plot! I want to talk about the readability, style and the amount of quality reading to be enjoyed (or not!) I have no affiliation to anybody, so my comments are without outside influence. enjoy my thoughts, and please feel free to comment...
By A. D. Miller
Atlantic Books, 2011
ISBN: 978 1 84887 453 4
For a debut novel, this book is fab! In fact, for any book, this is fab! Set in modern day Russia, it tells of the good, bad and ugly of this country, seen from the point of view of a foreigner and Russian alike. The accolades for this story, written on the cover of this book sum up the quality succinctly; ‘Totally Gripping’ says the Times; ‘Disturbing and dazzling’ says the Sunday Telegraph.
The term ‘snowdrops’ is used by the Russians to describe the bodies that die during the Moscow winter, outside, where their corpse is only discovered with the melting of the snow. The down and outs, the tramps, the homeless and the occasional murder victim all remain under the winter snow for months, until the scale of the problem reveals itself in the spring.
If you transfer this thought to the more cynical world of bribery, blackmail, love trysts and the universal fact of a man who has his head turned by a pretty girl, then you have the makings of a tightly written, enigmatic book that sweeps you on the first page and carries you full pelt until it drops you off on the very last page. If you are truly lucky, this will be done in one sitting. You will encounter all the seedier, corrupt side of Moscow, the coercion of women with a plan, the naivety of a foreigner in a strange land (a chap with certain influences), the simple side of old Russia and all wrapped up in a slow burning plot that you think you follow but I was never quite sure if the plot line would change. In my usual way, I won’t write of the plot line itself so as not to spoil it, but I did feel sorry for Nick, the British lawyer, but I also wanted to shout to him to watch out. I don’t think he would have listened anyway!
It is clear from the text that the author has an understanding of Russia, both before the revolution and since. His biography tells me that he as spend time writing of the country, an understanding that comes through loud and clear. Who knows, he might have even known the character Nick when he was there. So vivid and expansive is his descriptive prose. I am looking forward to his next offering. I do urge you to put a day aside with a large packet of chocolate biscuits and a pot of aromatic coffee to keep you going, and read this novel. You will not be disappointed (I hope) and if you are like me, you will discover a world previously not explored and although the story has been told in various guises, you will feel it has been told in a fresh new style.
BookerBookBloke verdict: 9/10