The Guardian First Book Award longlist

The Guardian First Book Award longlist is out, and I like it the balance between fiction and non-fiction. Haven’t read some of the books; Richard Benson’s The Farm, Nick Laird’s poetry (do not call him Mr Zadie Smith, he’s heard it before), Diana Evans’ 26A and Wesley Stace’s Misfortune aren’t available here yet. Suketu’s Maximum City and Alexander Masters’ Stuart were both on the Samuel Johnson shortlist as well; both ranked among the best books I’d read in the last twelve months.Blogcritics has a comprehensive interview with Reza Aslan. Joanna Kavenna’s quest for Ultima Thule got a stellar review from Jenny Diski. I’ve already blogged a little bit about Rattawut Lapcharoensap, but here’s a review of Sightseeing anyway. Just started reading Tash Aw’s The Harmony Silk Factory, and have to admit I’m a little underwhelmed, but perhaps it’s just, as this reviewer suggests, a trifle inscrutable at first reading.

From The Guardian:
No god but God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam
Reza Aslan

A history and analysis of the Islamic faith from the position of an Iranian-American Muslim. Non-fiction

The Farm
Richard Benson

(Hamish Hamilton)

The story of the late 20th-century destruction of the British farming industry told through the experience of one Yorkshire farming family. Non-fiction

Stuart: A Life Backwards
Alexander Masters
(Fourth Estate)

The funny, irreverent and passionate story of a ‘chaotic homeless man’ as told by the young care worker who befriended him. Non-fiction

Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found
Suketu Mehta

A stunning history of the city by a young Indian journalist. Non-fiction

The Ice Museum
Joanna Kavenna

A young writer goes in search of ‘Thule’, the perfect north, and examines the myths and stories associated with it. Non-fiction

To a Fault
Nick Laird


Poems of family and identity by a talented new Irish poet. Poetry

Diana Evans

(Chatto and Windus)

A tale of mixed-race twins in multicultural west London. Fiction

Rattawut Lapcharoensap

Tourism as seen by the Thais. Fiction

Wesley Stace


A historical romp featuring cross-dressing and ballads, written by a musician. Fiction

The Harmony Silk Factory
Tash Aw
(Harper Perennial)

Three men from China, Japan and England and a Malaysian woman go into the pre-second world war jungle with devastating effects. Fiction





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