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The much anticipated Booker Prize Shortlist has been annouced! We have to say that we adore each and every novel on the list. The shortlist has writers from five countries, and even has the oldest author ever nominated.

There is a treasure chest of amazing fiction to be discovered in the list. We’ve gathered them together with our opinions on each of them. You won’t be able to just read one, and we highly recommend them all! 

It is 1985, in an Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal and timber merchant, faces into his busiest season. As he does the rounds, he feels the past rising up to meet him – and encounters the complicit silences of a people controlled by the Church. The long-awaited new work from the author of FosterSmall Things Like These is an unforgettable story of hope, quiet heroism and tenderness. 

The Booker Judges say: “A story of quiet bravery, set in an Irish community in denial of its central secret. Beautiful, clear, economic writing and an elegant structure dense with moral themes.”

LitVox says: A story with a complex and nuauced protagonist that shows a more hopeful side to Claire Keegan’s writings. Small Things Like These is a short but powerful novel that will stay with you long after you have out it down.

Lucy Barton is a successful writer living in New York. She is navigating the second half of her life as a recent widow and parent to two adult daughters. A surprise encounter leads her to reconnect with William. He is her first husband and longtime, on-again-off-again friend. Recalling their college years, the birth of their daughters, the painful dissolution of their marriage, and the lives they built with other people, Strout weaves a portrait, stunning in its subtlety, of a tender, complex, decades-long partnership.

The Booker Judges say: “No-one writes interior life as Strout does. This is meticulous observed writing, full of probing psychological insight. Lucy Barton is one of literature’s immortal characters – brittle, damaged, unravelling, vulnerable and most of all, ordinary, like us all.”

LitVox says: Cunningly complex, this novel explores the ongoing narrative of Lucy Barton, and examines her relationship with herself, her past, and her ex husband William. It builds through quiet moments and half remembered tales into a stunning story that is most enjoyable in the urge to find out as much as you can about this ordinary life. 

Maali Almeida, war photographer, gambler and closet gay, has woken up dead in what seems like a celestial visa office. His dismembered body is sinking in the serene Beira lake. He has no idea who killed him.

At a time where scores are settled by death squads, suicide bombers and hired goons, the list of suspects is depressingly long. The ghouls and ghosts with grudges who cluster round can attest to that. But even in the afterlife, time is running out for Maali. He has seven moons to contact the man and woman he loves most and lead them to a hidden cache of photos that will rock Sri Lanka.

The Booker Judges say: Life after death in Sri Lanka: an afterlife noir, with nods to Dante and Buddha and yet unpretentious. Fizzes with energy, imagery and ideas against a broad, surreal vision of the Sri Lankan civil wars. Slyly, angrily comic.

LitVox says: With somewhat absurd moments, and second person narrative, this book uses humour to connect with it’s audience while capturing the horrors of the Sri Lanka civil wars.

A long time ago, in a bountiful land not so far away, the animal denizens lived quite happily. Then the colonisers arrived. After nearly a hundred years, a bloody War of Liberation brought new hope for the animals. And along with a new leader. A charismatic horse who commanded the sun and ruled and ruled and kept on ruling. For forty years he ruled. With the help of his elite band of Chosen Ones, and his beloved and ambitious young donkey wife, Marvellous.

But even the sticks and stones know there is no night ever so long it does not end with dawn. And so it did for the Old Horse, one day as he sat down to his Earl Grey tea and favourite radio programme. A new regime, a new leader. Or apparently so. And once again, the animals were full of hope.

The Brooker Judges say: A fictional country of animals ruled by a tyrannical and absolute power is on the verge of liberation. The fiction becomes almost reality as we picture the parallel between this Animal Farm, Zimbabwe, and the fate of many African nations. An ingenious and brilliant political fable that bears witness to the surreal turns of history.

LitVox says: This is an incredible novel that doesn’t shy away from speaking truth to power. The story combines political satire with a writing style that is immersive and urgent. 

Treacle Walker is a stunning fusion of myth and folklore and an exploration of the fluidity time, vivid storytelling that illuminates an introspective young mind trying to make sense of everything around him.

Joe Coppock squints at the world with his lazy eye. He reads his comics, collects birds’ eggs and treasures his marbles, particularly his prized dobbers. When Treacle Walker appears off the Cheshire moor one day – a wanderer, a healer – an unlikely friendship is forged and the young boy is introduced to a world he could never have imagined.

The Booker Judges say: Garner bared to the bone in late style. This tiny book compresses all his themes – time, childhood, language, science and landscape entangled – into a single, calmly plaintive cry.

LitVox says: The oldest author ever nominated, this novel is an energetic, passionate narrative that delves into both myth and science, interrogating time and how we relate to it. 

The Trees is a page-turner that opens with a series of brutal murders in the rural town of Money, Mississippi. When a pair of detectives from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation arrive, they meet expected resistance from the local sheriff, his deputy, the coroner, and a string of racist White townsfolk. The murders present a puzzle, for at each crime scene there is a second dead body – that of a man who resembles Emmett Till, a young black boy lynched in the same town 65 years before.

The detectives suspect that these are killings of retribution. Soon, they discover that eerily similar murders are taking place all over the country. Something truly strange is afoot. As the bodies pile up, the MBI detectives seek answers from a local root doctor who has been documenting every lynching in the country for years, uncovering a history that refuses to be buried.

The Booker Judges say: Eerie, provocative, blackly comic Southern noir. A page-turner with a sharp, provocative edge, as it harks back to the real-life murder of the young Emmett Till, it has important things to say about race.

LitVox says: Although a comedy, this novel contains layers of horror and crime, while turning an unflinching gaze on rascism and ends with the idea that this cannot be solved in the pages of the book. 

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