Spirit of debate is alive and kicking

Book expert Mel Mitchell
Book expert Mel Mitchell

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Earlier this week the Man Booker Prize 2015 shortlist was revealed, shocking some and surprising others.

Earlier this week the Man Booker Prize 2015 shortlist was revealed, shocking some and surprising others.

The Man Booker is one of the oldest and most prestigious awards in literature, with its judges selecting the best eligible work of fiction every year. Its aim is to increase the reading of quality fiction.

If all this sounds a bit highfalutin – well, it is.

But anything that keeps the spirit of debate alive and kicking in the world of books is fine by me.

Though even the most readable of the winning titles would struggle to get anywhere near the sales of Katie Price or Jamie Oliver, if you’re looking for a book to make you think, the shortlists are a pretty good place to start.

I’ve picked two from this year’s shortlist as my books to watch this week and you can find out more at themanbookerprize.com.

Or pop into your local bookshop and ask where they think you should start.

The ceremony will be broadcast by the BBC on October 13 so we can all watch and see.

n Many, many books have been compared to Gone Girl following its incredible word-of-mouth success but none have come close, in my opinion – until now. With Fates and Furies (William Heinemann, published September 17), author Lauren Groff has crafted a mesmerising tale of a marriage based on secrets and lies and a female 
protagonist you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of.

Lotto and Mathilde are the couple in question and the first half of the book explores their relationship from his perspective, and the second from hers – which, beginning with a breathtaking revelation from her childhood, is when it really gets interesting. You’ll want to go back to the beginning and read it again.

n Probably one of the most readable from the Booker shortlist is A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (Vintage, published September 3), exploring four generations of the Whitshank family and whether home is a place or a state of mind.

One of two UK entries to be shortlisted, Sunjeev Sahota’s novel The Year of the Runaways (Picador, published June 18) presents 13 young Indian men living together in a house in Sheffield and hoping for a better life, revealing the humanity behind immigration headlines.

n Mel Mitchell is originally from Portsmouth and now lives in Gosport.

She is Publisher Liaison for newbooks magazine and its related website nudge-book.com, based in Stubbington.