Baileys Longlist 2016: Kate Atkinson’s ‘A God in Ruins’

 

baileysprize2016Welcome to the 2016 Bailey’s Prize for Fiction Longlist, and this year’s installment of MY GOD I CAN’T POSSIBLY READ ALL THESE BOOKS, BUT I CAN’T NOT, EITHER  breakdown.

It’s a prize I see coming months away, yet I can’t manage to protect myself from the inevitable uncontrolled lust it provokes. Same for the Bookers, or it was.

These past few years have proven that prize ridiculously political and unliterary in ways which are unforgivable. Are they now moot, well that’s the question. Maybe so. Maybe I’m done with them. GASP of utter dismay – but ask me again next time that longlist rolls around.

But not so the Baileys, oh no, not so. They remain very relevant, even crucial. Other awards remain male-dominated. Disagree? Do the math, then come see me once you’ve finished. I’ll have forgotten on what errand I sent you way before you return, but it would impress me knowing you’d tried.

 

agodinruins

 

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (January 12, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316176508
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316176507

 

I’ve read Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life, a sort of prequel to her latest Bailey’s Prize-nominated A God in Ruins, and that book was masterful, a gob-smacker. This is why it hurts me so deeply that I’m too involved with reviewing other books and interviewing other writers to pick up her newest and do it any justice.  Because not only has it been nominated for the Baileys, it also won last year’s Costa.

I mean, FUCK ME. How can I not find time to read this book? Please hold while the stabbing pain in my heart subsides.

quotes“We cannot turn away,” Miss Woolf told her, “we must get on with our job and we must bear witness.”

What did that mean, Ursula wondered.

“It means,” Miss Woolf said, “that we must remember these people when we are safely in the future.”

“And if we are killed?”

“Then others must remember us.”

Kate Atkinson, Life After Life

 

I’m cowed by Atkinson. She exhibits a generous helping of spatial logic, for lack of a more apt term, which may make no sense when applied to reading, but think about it.

Just a bit.

Keep thinking.

She has it and I lack it. I feel physical pain in my brain – not my head, my actual brain – when I try to picture very complex imagery or wrap my understanding around extremely twisty-turny stories. No, I’m not stupid, but I have a certain limit.  I’ll throw out Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch as an example of a novel that nearly blew up my brain.

Don’t even get started on Ulysses.

 

quotesOn A God in Ruins:

“Triumphant…such a dazzling read…Atkinson gives Teddy’s wartime experiences the full treatment in a series of thrilling set pieces. Even more impressive,though, is her ability to invest the more everday events with a similar grandeur…almost as innovative as Atkinson’s technique in Life After Life – a possibly more authentic as an expression of how it feels to be alive…it ends on one of the most devastating twists in recent fiction…it adds a further level of overwhelming poignancy to an already extraordinarily affecting book.”

— James Walton Daily Telegraph

 

I love Kate Atkinson’s books but she gives me a pain in the head. Let that one settle. I love her, and I’ll never stop reading her, but doing so demands I blaze new trails in my brain.

Maybe that’s not such a bad thing?

So, what’s a girl to do. Dunno, but what I’m doing is linking to a charmingly enthusiastic review of AGIR, a YouTube video review done by a lovely young vlogger from her channel ‘Always Bookish,’  because I think she’s adorable:


There, now, don’t you feel better about life already.

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