The Birdcage Archives

Sunday 30 April 2023

– XV –

Tolerating fools means you’ll never feel alone. In turn, tolerating fools means you never have quality company or conversation.

Tuesday 18 April 2023

The International Booker Prize Shortlist

Hello Gentle Reader,

The International Booker Prize has released its six finalists for this prize. The shortlist has been self-professed by members of the jury as being remarkably cool and deserved; yet, as with all awards, lists, and decisions (however arbitrary they are) there is a sensation of something amiss with this year’s award.

The shortlist for this year’s award is as follows: 

Georgi Gospodinov – Bulgaria – “Time Shelter,”
Cheon Myeon-Kwan – (South) Korea – “Whale,”
Eva Baltasar – Spain [Catalan language] – “Boulder,”
GauZ - Côte d'Ivoire [French language] – “Standing Heavy,”
Guadalupe Nettle – Mexico – “Still Born,”
Maryse Condé – Guadeloupe [French language] – “The Gospel According to the New World,” 

I am not surprised to see Eva Baltasar shortlisted for this year’s award, her short novel “Boulder,” has created explosive waves, with praise being provided both to her ability to be concise and intense in scope, creating a fever dream of sensations, and exploring the alienation of the individual within an otherwise hostile world. In turn, Cheon Myeon-Kwan has written a sweeping epic multi-generational novel that becomes both fable and farce, as the novel buzzes and brims with a sense peculiar and eccentric fantasia improvising into a colourful fantastical vision that thrives within the interlinked destinies of three women, who exist both within the absurd and the dreamlike, recounting the peculiar insular and original world of a remote village in South Korea.   

At 89 years old, Maryse Condé is the oldest writer to be nominated for the International Booker Prize, with her novel “The Gospel According the New World,” which has been described the judges of this year’s prize as warm and generous, proving that Maryse Condé is not haphazardly called the Grande Dame of Caribbean literature without good reason. “The Gospel According to the New World,” is parabolic in nature, following the miracle child rumored to be the child of God, Condé traces a divine bildungsroman of a messianic figure through a contemporary and postcolonial age with compassion and humour, this is a novel of lucid conviction, which explores the seriousness of our preoccupations with the ephemeral and enduring questions of fate and the shared destiny of mankind.

I am rather surprised to see some novels omitted from this year’s shortlist, for example, the French writer Laurent Mauvignier’s novel: “The Birthday Party.” “The Birthday Party,” was described in almost restrained and subtle wording. Further investigation proved that the novel is a spelunking lantern into the cavernous horrors of existence, bringing the light to the most torturous and disturbed thoughts of an individual. The tension of “The Birthday Party,” is palpable upon reading reviews and descriptions of the novel itself, recounting the isolation and the bubbling sensation of violence running in undercurrents beneath the placid façade of normalcy. I’m rather surprised to see this novel not included on the shortlist. As the world goes intensely more absurd and more favourable to encourage—even endorsing—primal urges and unrestrained releases of rage, as a sign of protestation and acknowledgement of their own displacement and dispossession. Instead, the shortlist and writers appeared to move in a different direction, with novels which may be viewed as ‘safe,’ or grappling with far more topical subjects in polite or otherwise uninteresting ways.

Congratulations to the writers shortlisted for this years International Booker Prize.

Thank-you for Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read
M. Mary

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