We all know the spell that a well-written book casts, how they can alter your existence in ways you could never imagine. In the vast sea of literature, sometimes you may miss some great books. Fret not. Every year the Man Booker Prize sifts through a great many books and short-lists the truly great ones from amongst them. Here is a list of the literary marvels that made it to the 2016 Man Booker Shortlist.
The Vegetarian by Han King
The Vegetarian is one of the most unique books to have ever been penned and not surprisingly has won the 2016 Man Booker Prize. The Vegetarian is a story set in the modern day South Korea about an ordinary couple, living an ordinary life. However, the wife decides to seek ‘plant-like’ existence. She starts trying to abandon her ‘fleshly prison’ to try and become a ‘tree’.
A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler
Seethaler’s chronicle A whole life is a delicate book which reflects the struggles of a man to find beauty and dignity in solitude. The protagonist, a man of a few words discovers life outside of Austrian Alps which he grudgingly leaves after the death of his wife to fight in the WWII only to come back to a changed world after he is captured as a war prisoner.
The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante
This shortlisted wonder is the last and 4th book in the Neapolitan Novels series. The story of the Lost Child is a beautiful book that charts the journey of friendship between two women: Elena who is bookish and brilliant, and the wildfire Lila. The story talks about their fight to transcend the ugliness of their neighborhood in which they grew up: “a prison of conformity, violence, and inviolable taboos.”
A strangeness in my mind by Orhan Pamuk
A strangeness in my mind asks some rather important but melancholy questions through its protagonist Mevlut, who observes the street world, people going about the streets, the city being demolished and then re-built once again. In the backdrop, he talks about Istanbul and how it has evolved, so much so that the city comes alive in his writings.
The Four Books by Yan Lianke
The four books is a book set in one of China’s most controversial periods where intellectuals were imprisoned for their free-thinking writings. The prisoners are required to smelt steel and grow wheat to earn small ‘red blossoms’ (which are awarded for “effort, obedience, and informing on others”) only to find themselves deserted by the government in times of famine. The book resonates the strength of friendship, faith and love when pitted against oppression and unsurpassed odds.