Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Friday, December 01, 2017
VUP staff pick the most interesting book they read in 2017
Fergus Barrowman The book I loved most is Some Things to Place in a Coffin by Bill Manhire, although I am hardly impartial. It’s impossible to pick one most interesting book, so three that smashed open customary forms while remaining absorbing and moving are This Is Memorial Device by David Keenan, Essayism by Brian Dillon and This Is the Place to Be by Lara Pawson.
Craig Gamble Mrs Osmond by John Banville. I can’t really tell if this is a loving pastiche of Henry James, or if Banville is just having a laugh. Either way, it’s a fun read, and glorious in its writing.
Kyleigh Hodgson The New Animals because I am still amazed that Pip Adam managed to convince me to read twenty pages about a woman swimming in Auckland Harbour with just the power of words on the page! The most interesting international book I read this year was The Scar, by China Mieville, because it is by far the most inventive sci-fi/fantasy novel I’ve read in years.
Holly Hunter The Idiot by Elif Batuman: if Hera Lindsay Bird wrote a novel about linguistics and love.
Kirsten McDougall Svetlana Alexievich's The Unwomanly Face of War because it's a point of view not usually recorded, an oral history of Russian and European women's experiences during WWII. In her extraordinary introduction, Alexievich calls it a 'history of feelings' which I love because it's a defiant challenge to traditional notions about history.
Ashleigh Young It would have to be the memoir Feverish by Gigi Fenster. (It’s out in March next year!) It’s a brilliantly told exploration of Gigi’s attempt to make her life a work of art by inducing a fever in herself. It is beautifully odd and often hilarious.