When the box with my books for the fiction award arrived at my door, I was really excited to sink into some good or even great fiction. I wasn’t disappointed on that front. With only a few weeks until the shadow panel I knew that I didn’t have time to read at my own usually leisurely pace, so I had to begin reading inearnest, reading what I could manage and skimming the rest.
I tried to keep a few particular things in mind while reading so that I could asses all the novels in a relatively even way. I thought about clarity of voice, how the plot flowed, and generally how well the book was written. Making judgements on what was worth an award or not was a bit of a battle of wills my head vs my heart. what would make the most impact on a reader vs the one I thought was the best. My head won in the end when it came to the shadow panel,but my favourite is the one that captured my heart.
My personally favourite book was Ashland &Vine by John Burnside. Though probably not the best books from the short list this was one of the few that immersed me in it’s narrative. The plot of this novel includes a lot of oral story telling which is portrayed in such a way that it feels natural. The story telling is not straightforward the teller goes off on tangents and stops in odd places in the story they are telling much like it is in really life. No story of life is ever straight forward.