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A guide to books on the Booker Prize and Obama's list

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Bad things stack up.

On Tuesday, Barack Obama dropped his 2022 summer reading list just as Britain’s most prestigious literary award, the Booker Prize, announced 13 books on this year’s long list.

The books on both lists are diverse in everything from crime and speculative fiction to extensive New York Knicks history and democratic investigations.

Each year, Obama shares his favorite books, music and movies with his millions of social media followers, sparking online chatter and discussion. And the Booker Prize longlist has generated similar excitement. Especially since it now includes an American title (which dominates this year’s list). Booker’s six shortlisted books will be announced on his September, and the winners will be announced on his October 17th at an in-person awards ceremony.

How does a reader sort through all these titles and come up with a decent shopping list? Here’s what we had to say:

Obama’s recommendations

“To Paradise” Nomiya Yanagihara

Yanagihara’s long-awaited third film was not a critic’s favourite. Spanning 300 years, his three-section, alternate version of New York City, To Paradise is a tale of lovers, colonialism, pandemics, and the false promises of utopia. Lynn Steger Strong praised its “hugeness” and “sound and fury”, but said that it ultimately felt “lacked in concreteness or self-doubt, or indeed empathy”. .

(Yanagihara’s previous work, A Little Life, was a finalist for the Booker Prize and the National Book Award in 2015.)

“Sea of ​​Tranquility” Emily St. John Mandel

Among the most obvious contenders on Obama’s list (he had Mandel’s “The Glass Hotel” on the 2020 list), this dazzlingly speculative novel went from novel to HBO’s max hit. A sequel of sorts to Station Eleven, it takes readers back and forth in time and space — from Vancouver Island in the early 20th century to a lunar colony 500 years later.

Critic Besanne Patrick says, “Following a good stylist like Mandel is like watching a master lacemaker at work.” Your eyes simply can’t keep track of what’s in between. Like her best work, including “Station Eleven,” she’s more concerned with continuity than endings. In ”, her vision is less bleak, less prophetic, but as powerful as ever. ”

“Candy House” Jennifer Egan

Also on the list was a sequel of a different kind, Egan’s long-awaited sequel to the 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel-in-a-story, A Visit from the Goons. It’s a story of human longing, history, and memory built around devices that can store people’s complete memories.

Lynne Steger Strong walked with the author for a day in Manhattan’s East Village in March ahead of the book’s publication. ’” Egan said), talking about the joy Egan hopes to give his readers, and the more complex benefits of getting older.

“America’s Little Devil: Celebrating Black Performance” by Hanif Abdullaqib

Abdurraqib’s pan-cultural 2021 collection of critical essays has been nominated for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. From “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” to Beyoncé, Black explores his art, music and culture in an overwhelming collection.

In March, poet and essayist Abdul Ali wrote an essay in The Times praising Abdullaqib’s powerful writing and fresh insights as a black cultural critic, marking him as the successor to the late Greg Tate.

“Razor Blade Tears”, SA Cosby

A finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Awards, Cosby’s southern thriller mystery follows black and white men joining forces to fight a common enemy after their sons are brutally murdered.

Writer and critic Paula Woods called it a “more emotionally raw affair” than her previous best-selling “Blacktop Wasteland”. Woods also said that while the book is full of violence, it portrays “communal grief, the fathers’ moving awareness of the true meaning of love, and even Cosby’s reverence for the vibrant natural world.” By doing so, it celebrates its “great beauty”.

“Silver View” John Le Carré

Le Carré’s final book is a best-selling post-mortem spy thriller set in a small town on the English coast. After his death, The Times compiled a recommended reading list for first-time readers of his work.

“Velvet was the night” Silvia Moreno Garcia

Acclaimed as one of the best books of 2021, “Velvet Was the Night” is a historical noir set in 1970s Mexico about two people searching for a missing woman.

Earlier this year, critic, editor, and author Paula Woods interviewed Moreno-Garcia ahead of her latest best-selling book, Dr. Moreno’s Daughter.

Booker Prize Long List Pick

“Nightcrawl” Layla Mottley

At 20, Motley is the youngest author ever to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Her debut novel, Nightcrawling, follows her 17-year-old girl whose family is torn apart by death and prison. To survive, she turns to sex work, but ends up being sexually exploited by Auckland police officers.The book is inspired by a real-life scandal involving the Auckland Police Department. rice field.

On a sunny May afternoon, Motley and Times book reporter Dranny Pineda (it’s me!) spoke about joy, hope and violence against black girls in Oakland’s Dimond Park.

“Trees” Percival Everett

Everett’s satirical literary thriller begins with a series of murders in rural Mississippi and takes aim at racism and police brutality. Critic Lorraine Berry called the book “a masterpiece of comic horror” and praised the University of Southern California professor’s “extraordinary flair for wordplay”. … He resorts to words of anger and exaggeration to provoke a reaction that history books can never elicit. ”

“Trust” Hernan Diaz

‘Trust’ is a uniquely constructed story focused on power and troubled families in New York City, set in the 1920s and Great Depression. It’s actually a set of four of his stories that contradict each other. Critic Hilary Kelly saw Trust as a promising and textured work of fiction, but was ultimately disappointed, calling it “a cunning jackalope in a novel that has too many spoofs and ends up being a spoof.” ’ he called. A novel must tell the truth, even if it doesn’t,” she concludes.

“Oh William!” Elizabeth Strout

“Oh William!” is a continuation of Strout’s Amgash series (following “My Name Is Lucy Barton” and “Anything Is Possible”). In “Olive Kitterridge,” the 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist follows a former couple as they confront their past and the secrets they’ve kept.

“Oh William!” It’s like coming home to a sensibility so cleverly deployed that it might go unnoticed,” Kelly wrote in The Times. It’s a concept to celebrate.”

“Glory”, NoViolet Bulawayo

NoViolet Bulawayo’s latest novel is a hilarious satire about the end of an oppressive regime and what comes after. Earlier this year, journalist Andersen Tepper spoke with the Zimbabwean-born Californian author. His debut novel, We Need New Names, was on Booker’s shortlist for 2013. They talked about confronting Zimbabwe’s ghosts, trauma, and the writer’s mission to “take back our lives.”

“Little Things Like These” Claire Keegan

Small Things Like Seeds continues the talents of the Irish novelist, known for her award-winning short stories with keen social insight. Set during the Christmas season of 1985, the novel follows Bill Furlong, an Irish village coal merchant who makes a disturbing discovery.

Freelance critic Besanne Patrick said, “Keegan’s first novel, Small Things Like Seeds, lives up to all her previous accolades with the shocking power of debuting this month.” I was born in the world,” he writes. “With only 70 pages of text, it might have been considered a novella, but it has received greater acclaim.”