May 2021 Wrap-Up

Well, May, as expected, was dominated by the International Booker Prize.  Having finished as many of the titles as possible, our Shadow Panel decided on a shortlist (slightly different from the official one), and after more deliberations, including a Zoom meeting, we chose our winneras did the official judges later that same day.

Of course, it was all great fun, but I can’t say I’m not relieved to have a little more freedom in my reading choices, especially as I spent most of May on Booker rereads.  This month should prove to be a litle more liberating, then, but before we get into that, let’s finish off the month that was properly – by tidying up the stats 🙂

Total Books Read: 10
Year-to-Date: 65

New: 7
Rereads: 3

From the Shelves: 6
Review Copies: 4
From the Library: 0
On the Kindle: 0 (0 review copies)

Novels: 6
Novellas: 0
Short Stories: 3
Non-Fiction: 1

Non-English Language: 10
(3 Japanese, 2 French, Danish, Korean, Romanian, German, Finnish)
In Original Language: 1 (German)

Books Reviewed in May were:

1) I Live in the Slums by Can Xue
2) The War of the Poor by Éric Vuillard
3) Painting Time by Maylis de Kerangal
4) Things Remembered and Things Forgotten by Kyōko Nakajima
5) To the Warm Horizon by Choi Jin-young
6) Pawcasso by Remy Lai
7) When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamin Labatut
8) An Inventory of Losses by Judith Schalansky
9) Heaven by Mieko Kawakami
10) Nostalgia by Mircea Cărtărescu
11) The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enríquez
12) Sky Dragon 2: Fly Free by Anh Do

Tony’s Turkey for May is:
Éric Vuillard’s The War of the Poor

Look, while it wasn’t awful, I expect a lot more from my IBP longlisters (not to mention shortlisters…), and Vuillard’s brief, breezy take on a sixteenth-century rebel left a lot to be desired.  It was easily at the bottom of our Shadow Panel rankings, and we weren’t the only readers left wondering just what it was the official judges actually saw in it…

Tony’s Recommendation for May is:
Mircea Cărtărescu’s Nostalgia

I covered several great books this month, and special shout-outs go here to Can Xue, Maylis de Kerangal, Judith Schalansky and Mieko Kawakami, but this was an incredibly easy decision. Cărtărescu’s novel in five stories was head and shoulders above the competition, and I’m already seeing it as a potential book of the year.  Do yourselves a favour, and read it 😉

Well, after all the IBP adventures of the past couple of months, I suspect June will be a slightly more relaxing month, with a mix of comfort rereading and a few review copies that have piled up on the shelves while I’ve been otherwise occupied.  The reviews will start up again very soon, so please drop by and see what I’ve turned to in order to drive away my Booker hangovers 😉

10 thoughts on “May 2021 Wrap-Up

  1. May sounds like a productive, if stressful month. I just read your Nostalgia review (it’s a novel I had previously noticed on the New Directions website). It certainly sounds fascinating, if demanding. and definitely worth checking out.


    1. Janakay – It’s a wonderful book, and I’m itching for more of the writer’s work to make it into English…


        1. A.J. – It is, I’m not the only fan around (although I did hear from another reader that his edition doesn’t contain the afterword that I mentioned in my review!).


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