Sunday, 26 June 2011

As we're half way through 2011, I was looking back on my reading and wondering what might eventually qualify as Book of the Year.
And nothing was shouting at me ...
Until this week when I read Brodeck's Report, a novel translated from the French that I've been meaning to read for some time.
It is by Philippe Claudel, who - I only discovered from the jacket - was the scriptwriter for I've Loved You So Long, that very good film of a couple of years ago, starring Kristin Scott Thomas. Which was also about secrets and guilt.
Brodeck returns from a German concentration camp just after the Second World War to a village on the borders between France and Germany; presumably Alsace. He has always been an outsider. When another outsider - a man known only as the Anderer - is horribly murdered, the Mayor calls upon Brodeck to write a report.
This is a powerfully written book about collective and individual guilt and what we will do to survive. I was gripped but at the same time so appalled that I could only read it slowly.
But it's definitely my book of 2011. So far.

I'm disqualifying The Hare with Amber Eyes because it was my last year's Book of the Year (even though it's so brilliant that I had to read it again).
So my best non-fiction read has to be The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

Honourable runners-up in the fiction category: Corrag, by Susan Fletcher, So Long, See You Tomorrow, and All Quiet on the Western Front. A classic, but it was new to me and a gift for World Book Night.

Of course, there's a lot of reading time to go before the year is out.
What I'd really love to read is a brilliantly well-written feel-good book ... Where are they? Everything I've chosen here has been powerful but harrowing.


StuckInABook said...

I've been very lucky this year with my reading; so many wonderful books, but not really any which I would describe as feel-good... I'm going through my 'books read' list, trying to find a well written feel-good novel for you... oh, Mr. Pim Passes By by AA Milne!

mary said...

Thanks for the suggestion, Simon. I haven't read AA Milne since Winnie-the-Pooh (which was never a favourite, maybe because I didn't have a bear that I loved!).
I have to confess that my first thought was, Ooh, not for me. But I've just read your review and you're pulling me in ... so if I ever come across it in a charity shop!