Sunday, November 30, 2008

Season's readings part two -
Hari Kunzru to Philip Pullman: writers and politicians pick the best books of 2008
Compiled by Ginny Hooker writing in, Saturday 29 November.

Hari Kunzru

Joseph O'Neill's Netherland is a melancholy and controlled novel about cricket. There aren't many of those around. JG Ballard is also a cricket fan, and his volume of autobiography, Miracles of Life, provides a key to his strange, hallucinatory fiction.

I'm living in New York, and the only thing that's made me feel homesick is a photography book called No Such Thing As Society: Photography in Britain 1967-1987 (Hayward Publishing). It shows a world I remember from growing up, a world that now feels very far away in time, as well as space.

Philip Pullman

Alex Ross's The Rest is Noise has been widely praised, and quite right too. It's a history of 20th-century music so vivid and original in approach that it made me listen again to many pieces I thought I knew well. It was so interesting that I even forgave him for saying nothing about my favourite composer, Nicolai Medtner.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, translated by Reg Keeland (Quercus), is several cuts above most thrillers I've read recently - intelligent, complex, with a gripping plot and deeply intriguing characters. The author's sudden early death is a great loss: he would have lit up the fiction lists for a long time to come.

A book I read slowly and with continuing pleasure and fascination was Philip Waller's Writers, Readers and Reputations: Literary Life in Britain 1870-1918 (OUP). The vulgar brutality of the bestseller lists, the profitable misery of lecture tours, the iniquity of reviewers, the knife-in-the-back competitiveness - nothing has changed.
Read the full list of picks from the various contributors at the Guardian online.

No comments: