We asked some of our Picador authors to share the Man Booker books they've loved most since the prize's inception in 1969.
I read and then re-read The Bone People by Keri Hulme (which won in 1985) more than a decade ago now. It’s stayed with me as a luminous, entrancing, sometimes frustrating, occasionally shocking novel, imbued with hurt, love and a rich sense of the New Zealand landscape.
The Bone People is full of beauty: the lyrical descriptions of nature and of love are some of the most uplifting and vivid I’ve ever read. It’s also overflowing with violence and fury and darkness and grief. I first read it when I was twelve, and it made an indelible and powerful impression.
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What kind of world do we live in? Great novels tell us. The hotel is a vivid cultural metaphor, and in Ali Smith’s lyrical novel Hotel World (shortlisted in 2001), it illustrates the inequality measured by who is allowed in, and who is left outside. Ghosts and the homeless, employees and guests, jostle together in contradiction, in a narrative shot through with Smith’s characteristic humour and compassion.
Recounted from his future self as three separate journeys, a man offers himself to the world as follower, lover and guardian. Tender. Wise. Candid. Intense. Elemental. Moving. A consummate meditation on time and place; memory and recollection; and of a man's efforts to step away from himself and at the same time discover who he is. In a Strange Room was shortlisted in 2010.
This deeply imaginative book (which was shortlisted in 2001) refined my idea of what a literary novel could—and perhaps even should—be. Eiji Miyake’s journey to find his father has remained with me, and I’m still struck by Mitchell’s sensory details of Japan: the smells, and the tastes, above all.
Perhaps it’s because I’m a twin. I read this strange, beguiling novel about twinhood three years ago, but the story still turns in my head. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (shortlisted in 2014) is about familial love, and all the harm and wonder it entails. It is an immensely human tale with an extraordinary (non-human) twist. I won’t spoil it for you.
Novelist Edith Hope is a beautifully drawn character struggling to salvage her dignity within the genteel and claustrophobic confines of the Hotel du Lac. Hope observes English society at its most cynical, while being forced to survey her own life and yearnings with courage and painful lucidity. Brookner’s Hotel du Lac - which won in 1984 - stays with you, a slow-burning beacon that confronts loneliness, self-knowledge and the constraints of female status.