From the¬†National Post article announcing the win,‘Half-Blood Blues tells the story of Sidney Griffiths, an elderly former jazz musician now living out his days in Baltimore. He is haunted by the disappearance of his friend and bandmate Hieronymus Falk, a black German trumpeter arrested by the Nazis in Paris at the start of the Second World War. When he‚Äôs invited to Berlin for the premiere of a documentary about Hieronymus, Sid sets out to uncover what happened to his friend all those years ago’
Half Blood Blues actually looks pretty good. ¬†I might have considered reading it, had I not had two bad experiences with award winners last year.
The Finkler Question beat out everyone’s beloved¬†Room by ¬†Emma Donohue for the¬†Man Booker Prize, 2010. ¬†I read Room, and it was spectacular. Both genius, and heartbreaking, Donohue’s ability to speak in the voice of a five year old child was just incomparable.
But, its an honour just to be nominated, right, and the prize went to The Finkler Question. ¬†I obviously bought the winning book, thinking if it kicked Room’s butt, it must be unbelievable. ¬†It was! ¬†Unbelievably BAD! ¬†I tried. ¬†I really did. ¬†I read at least four chapters. ¬†And nothing happened. It was just this weird guy roaming the streets of London, all melancholy and ruminating on his equally weird friends and their strange lives. ¬†Nothing happened. It was like time moved backwards when I was reading this book. ¬†Maybe I didn’t give it a chance by not persevering until the denouement, but, I like myself. ¬†So I didn’t.
- The Finkler Question, 2010
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. I love Historical Fiction. ¬†Times past fascinate me. ¬†I will devour anything from Atlantis, and backwards, Queen Elizabeth, forwards, plus everything in between (think Cleopatra, Greek Mythology, etc etc). ¬†I picked up Wolf Hall, which was the Man Booker Prize winner for 2009, knowing that it covered a fascinating period in English history, the rise of Cromwell’s prominence in the Tudor Courts. ¬†Theoretically, this book was going to be amazing. ¬†In practical terms, it was written in a confusing way, where everybody’s names kept changing, the voice kept changing, and I actually had no idea who was talking, what they were talking about, and what was happening. ¬†It was very disheartening, as I think I’m pretty smart, and with it. ¬†And I’ve read a lot of books. ¬†I’ve never felt as lost as I did when I was reading Wolf Hall. I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. Someone in the publishing world told me, ‘When ever they say ‘he’ they mean Cromwell. ¬†Just keep that in mind.’ ¬†Folks that was too much brain food, even for me.
- Wolf Hall, Man Booker Winner, 2009
Come to think of it, I think I will read Half-Blood Blues. ¬†After all, it won the¬†Giller Prize, not the¬†Man Booker Prize. ¬†One must support fellow Canadian Writers, after all.
What are your experiences with award winning books?
Do you pick up books you might not normally read because they’ve been nominated or have won an award?
If you want to read more, please visit me at www.about.me/marashapiro. ¬†I’m so social, I had to put it all in one place!