The books I’ve been enjoying lately have obviously struck a chord with judges too as they are all award winners and/or nominees.
I was intrigued by the unusual take on crime fiction in Emily Macguire’s An Isolated Incident (shortlisted for the Stella Prize), it’s a stark reminder of the hidden victims of criminal events – and how those looking to capitalise from them might justify their actions. I did have thoughts on the ending but don’t want to add any spoilers! This is a great book for book clubs.
I took my time with Heather Rose’s The Museum of Modern Love (winner of the Stella Prize) as it’s a brilliant, deftly original piece that needs savouring. The novel is a great character study but also a really intriguing portrayal of Marina Abramovic, who has fascinated me over the last year as she keeps coming to my attention – both for this event ‘The Artist is Present’ and for the performance art she has done in the past (imagine walking halfway along the Great Wall of China to say goodbye to your ex!). Many of these are mentioned in the novel. In addition to this, I both learned from and admired Rose’s superb writing.
Finally, my recent personal favourite is The Power by Naomi Alderman (winner of the Baileys Women’s Prize) – about a world where young girls suddenly get an extra ability – an electrical charge through their fingers that changes the order of society. The image of boys being loaded onto a school bus for their own safety will stay with me, as will many other parts of this book. I’m not at all surprised it has been well endorsed by Margaret Atwood, and I highly recommend this for lovers of dystopian fiction – and if you haven’t yet dipped your toes into this genre, then this is a great place to start.