Two-thirds of the way into his new, Man Booker-shortlisted book, In a Strange Room, South African writer Damon Galgut writes: “A journey is a gesture inscribed in space, it vanishes even as it’s made… Things happen once only and are never repeated, never return. Except in memory.” Read more

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This is, as with most things to do with this blog, selective and arbitrary. Given that we are in the second week of the last month of the last year of the decade known as the noughties, some stock taking is necessary. But I am terrible at taking stick, awful at anthologizing, because I feel guilty about leaving things out. Read more

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When it was announced that Romanian-born German novelist Herta Müller had won the Nobel Prize for literature this year, I had two immediate reactions: a) the by-now-annual stab of resentment that the blokes in Stockholm have – again – not given Philip Roth the nod; and b) oh, dear, I am such an ignorant git, I haven’t read a single one of Muller’s. Read more

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So here we are with the most hotly debated annual shortlist in the English-speaking books world – the final six books vying for the Man Booker Prize 2009.

What has it boiled down to?

Summerland by JM Coetzee

The Children’s Book by AS Byatt Read more

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I have just finished reading Alan Bennett’s incredibly funny novella, The Uncommon Reader (read a review here), which describes what happens when the Queen suddenly becomes passionately devoted to reading. In Bennett’s best style, it is as much a wicked comedy of manners as an inspiring delineation of the pleasures of reading, of why we do, and what might come of it. Read more

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