18. A Prize Winning Book

The Man Booker Prize

The prize, which celebrated its 45th anniversary in 2013 after launching in 1969, aims to promote the finest in fiction by rewarding the best novel of the year written in English and published in the United Kingdom.To maintain the consistent excellence of the Man Booker Prize, judges are chosen from a wide range of disciplines, including critics, writers and academics, but also poets, politicians and actors, all with a passion for quality fiction.

The winner of the Man Booker Prize receives £50,000 and, like all the shortlisted authors, a cheque for £2,500 and a designer bound copy of their book. Fulfilling one of the objectives of the prize – to encourage the widest possible readership for the best in literary fiction – the winner and the shortlisted authors now enjoy a dramatic increase in book sales worldwide.

Normally I don’t do prize winners. Their usually too long and about high brow things that I don’t really care about or that I don’t understand. But the list says I have to read one so I did.

The Remains of the Day

Kazuo Ishiguro

1989

A compelling portrait of the perfect English butler and of his fading, insular world in postwar England. At the end of his three decades of service at Darlington Hall, Stevens embarks on a country drive, during which he looks back over his career to reassure himself that he has served humanity by serving “a great gentleman.” But lurking in his memory are doubts about the true nature of Lord Darlington’s “greatness” and graver doubts about his own faith in the man he has served.

I chose Ishiguro because I have been meaning to read Remains of the Day for a long time, pretty much ever since I read Never Let Me Go. I just never got round to it. There were always other, easier things to read. 

I almost didn’t get through it either. I started reading and the pace was just so slow. Which I get now that I’ve finished it, but it certainly didn’t hook me. I wondered if I cared enough about Stevens to read about his six day holiday. But I’m glad I did persevere, because it’s a great book. I suppose a prize winner should be.

The bits about Stevens’ journey are pretty boring. He is just driving around the English countryside. His reminiscences though are fascinating. And even though I know it’s fiction, I feel Ishiguro has captured the pre and post war context brilliantly. It feels much more realistic than Downton Abbey and there is still a love plot. 

It is very true to life. There’s not a happy ending, there’s no ending really. It’s just six days in the twilight of this man’s life.
All info in italics from the Man Booker Prize website
Coming up on my next blog: More posts without pictures.

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