IBP 2023 Round Up – Reviews Three & Four

Earlier this week, in the first of my International Booker Prize longlist round-up posts, we took a journey around Korea and then headed off to Paris, but today’s post involves even more travel.  First up, we’ll be in Mexico for some domestic drama before moving on to – well, all over the place, really, as we try to work out what life’s all about…

Confused?  So am I, so let’s push on with my final pair of round-ups (links are to my full reviews) – let’s see how likely these two are to go the distance.

Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel –
Fitzcarraldo Editions, translated by Rosalind Harvey
What’s it all about?
Laura, a globetrotting Mexican woman, comes home to work on her PhD and catch up with old friends.  Having decided she doesn’t want kids, she’s a little miffed that her best friend does, and that decision is to drag everyone into a world of heartbreak.  Without giving too much away, things don’t exactly go to plan, and Laura is forced not only to lend a helping hand but also to take a closer look at her own life, and examine where she really wants to go from here.

Does it deserve to make the shortlist?
Of the four longlisters I’ve read so far, this was probably the one I appreciated most after a first reading.  It’s an excellent story where everything links up nicely, and with a fair few surprises, too.  I have a feeling that this will be in my top six, and it could well end up even higher.

Will it make the shortlist?
This has potential-shortlister written all over it, and Fitzcarraldo are no strangers to the pointy end of the IBP process.  Kiss of death?  Perhaps, but I think it has a very good chance all the same.

A System So Magnificent It Is Blinding by Amanda Svensson –
Scribe UK, translated by Nichola Smalley
What’s it all about?
Sebastian, Matilda and Clara Isaksson are Swedish triplets who, at the age of twenty-six, find themselves scattered around Europe.  We gradually get to know more about the siblings, and their problems, with a potentially devastating secret from their childhood suddenly revealed, and in a story taking us from London to Berlin, Sweden and Easter Island, we learn all about the human brain, the end of the world and a very moral monkey.  It’s a rather chaotic, and at times confusing book, but by the end we can safely say that the triplets are closer than they’ve been for a good while, with the truth helping mend broken ties.

Does it deserve to make the shortlist?
I don’t think so.  While enjoyable, Svensson’s book was a little messy for me, and there’s a mixture of humour and earnestness that doesn’t always gel.  I doubt very much that it’ll be one of the worst books I’ll read for this year’s IBP, but I don’t think it’ll be among the highlights, either.

Will it make the shortlist?
You never can tell with the IBP, and given that the book’s made the longlist, somebody obviously likes it.  However, if I had to stick my neck out (and that’s pretty much the whole idea here…), I’d have to say that it’ll probably be one of those left by the wayside when the judges choose their final six – monkey, or no monkey…

Right.  So, the admin’s all done, the previously read books have been revisited, and it’s now time to move on with the rest of the longlist reading, yeah?  Ah, no…  You see, I’m easily distracted, and as it turns out, I decided that before I read my next longlister, I needed to take a step back in preparation.  Join me next time, and you’ll (hopefully) see what I mean 😉


2 thoughts on “IBP 2023 Round Up – Reviews Three & Four

    1. Grant – Given the way things are turning out so far, I’m not seeing anything that will even challenge it for the win!


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