I’ve been reading the new Booker Prize winning novel, having just purchased one of the last copies in hardback, and so I may be out of action, doing a spot of reading.
It’s ….. Lovely. Absolutely lovely. A rich tapestry, a convoluted murder mystery, set in a foreign land (to the rest of the world), and written in really beautifully crafted prose. I should just shut up and read it, instead of blogging on like a Slater, but I just want to briefly enthuse over the quality and cleverness of Eleanor Catton’s crafting off the story. It is of course different from Keri Hulme’s previous Booker prize winner, which got fairly impenetrable in parts, and it is a lot more approachable (to me) than Midnight’s Children, although maybe that’s just because I dislike Rushdie’s writing style.
I am amused, and impressed at Catton’s cleverness. She sets the first half of the story all on one day in 1866, the 27th of January to be exact, but with multiple flashbacks to explain the story. She invokes a newspaper of the time, the Grey River Argus, and describes what it has on it’s front page that day – and yet, when I rushed off to the National Library’s fantastic website Papers Past, which lists every issue of every old newspaper – curiously, there was a paper published that week, but no, the website does not have a copy. It’s almost as if they are in on her complex secret.
So nice to see Maori phrases and sentences in an internationally successful novel, untranslated, as writers so often do with French or Latin, but here, WE have the advantage. We alone know what that character is saying, other nations will just have to twiddle thumbs and guess, because at this stage in time, there is not yet a google translate button for Maori. Give it time…
I’ve had a good day reading today, enjoying that gorgeous Wellington weather, and have read 375 pages so far, out of a hefty 832, but I don’t really want it to end. I may have to try and spin it out. I may be some time.