Next Tuesday Indonesia time, a panel of judges of Man Booker Prize is going to announce the winner of this year’s leading literary award. While I don’t pay much attention to the award in the last few years, this year I am like ‘reminded’ on its importance after I accidentally come across an article about it.
The mentioning of Fiona Mozley whose debut novel ‘Elmet’ makes it to the short list of the award thrills me. I remember after I read the article I straightly seek articles about her. What makes me curious about this candidate is firstly because she is as young as I am. Secondly, it is because she works part-time in a bookstore. Lastly, because she is now on her education to pursue her Master degree. She is like Hannah Kent, an Australian writer whose ‘Burial Rites’ is so popular. Call it subjective but I think it doesn’t really matter if you have special interests on people or writers who are in the similar group age as you are.
Plus, ‘Elmet’ tells about the relation between people and land or home. I quickly associate this theme with the similar one happening in Jakarta. My memory brings me back years ago when I work as a journalist that requires me covering some conflicts about houses in Jakarta and regulations.
For your information, owning a house in Jakarta is very expensive, probably this also happens in all capital cities in the world. What complicates this topic is that in Jakarta, there are still some vacant spaces that are left abandoned. No reasons are provided. Some of them are owned by Indonesia’s firms, some are by private. The thing is people come to these lands, mostly from outside the capital. They set up houses, many are permanent, some are makeshift ones. They live there for so long, some even decades. They pay rent, they pay electricity bills and so forth. Years go by and they live peacefully. But they are illegal. So after some years, there come officers from the capital administrations who want the land back. In most cases, violence is inevitable.
That’s how Fiona’s story sticks deep in my brain because it is so relatable with people in Jakarta.
Anyway, her competitors are ‘4 3 2 1’ by Paul Auster, ‘History of Wolves’ by Emily Fridlund, ‘Exit West’ by Mohsin Hamid, ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’ by George Saunders and ‘Autumn’ by Ali Smith.
I don’t search about the themes of the other five books so I am sorry that this post is completely unbalanced, LOL. The thing is I am excited about the award is because I believe whichever wins the prize, the quality of the fiction is definitely out of question.
This is because I read some books that are named as the prize champion and they are all awesome. I read ‘The God of Small Things’, ‘Life of Pi’, ‘The White Tiger’ which are the winners of the prize. Each novel brings out something which is so unique. Each of them polishes one or two things that make it distinctive.
‘The God of Small Things’, for instance, steals my heart with its wondrous way of telling the story, so poetic yet sad at the same time. I really adore Roy for this technique.
‘Life of Pi’ surprises me as how short sentences and straight plots can slowly lead readers grasp such a heavy topic as survival, belief, faith and religion. Yan Martel confronts readers with the very fundamental matters that have embedded human beings for centuries. I personally salute how the author crafts the difficult, subjective ones through simple way of telling.
‘The White Tiger’ is one of the smartest fictions I have read so far. Aravind Adiga punches me so many times. The book is witty, full of critics, comical. Beyond the story readers can understand how serious the themes Adiga wants to put forward. Poverty, corruption, social gap between the rich and the poor, politic and the like. Since Adiga is a former journalist I can see why he chooses writing about this kind of thing. Brilliant book I must say!
So yeah, I can’t hardly wait for the announcement. I hope I can read the novel who’s going to be this year’s best fiction.