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5 Must Read Man Booker Prize Shortlisted Novels


There comes a stage in every person’s life when they becomes conscious of their surroundings and are able to frame their opinions about the same. They become aware about the norms of the society in which they live in. They becomes an adult, although they might be quite young at it. They start making their own decisions and whether or not to develop a habit of ‘living more than one life’ is determined at this time. Living more than one life can be achieved best by reading BOOKS. Not the course books (of course) but novels written by ‘great’ men and women.

Oftentimes, we (youngsters) are very sceptical about reading novels and more so, the award winning novels which we often think to be too difficult for us to understand. We do not give them chance to be able to create a special place in our hearts and therefore these books fail to attain the status of being a bestseller. But there are some great work of fiction which should be read by all young adults. These are the following:-

1. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images

Young adults are not just about love and romance, they are about revolution too. This revolutionary nature of the young is intelligently captured by Jhumpa Lahiri in this 2013 Man Booker prize shortlisted novel. This tale spans the lifetime of its protagonists. It is about two brothers, Subhash and Udayan born just 15 months apart and often mistaken for each other in the streets of Calcutta where they grow up. But they are also opposites. This book is also about how diametrically different their futures are, no matter how close they are to each other. It is the 1960s; Udayan who is the charismatic one, draws towards the Naxalite Movement while Subhash, the dutiful son leaves his home to pursue scientific research in the distant land of Rhode Island. But when Udayan leaves everything behind, it is his brother Subhash who would heal the wounds Udayan left behind for him, including those seared in the heart of his wife. This novel is suspenseful and piercingly intimate. It is indeed a masterly novel of fate and will, of exile and return.

This novel portrays the plight of the people during and after (even after many decades), the Naxalite Movement of Bengal. How the political conspiracies ruined the worlds of the common people are beautifully lightened in this masterpiece.

First Line Of The Book- East of the Tolly Club, after the Deshparan Sashmal Road splits in two, there is a small mosque.

2. How to be Both by Ali Smith

Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images

How to be Both is a novel for all the artists out there. This novel is all about art’s vitality. There are two parts of the novel both marked by the same number, ‘ONE’. Also one cool thing about this book is that these two stories are sequenced differently in the different units of the book, which means that what may be first part in my book would be the second one in yours. How cool is that! There are no chapters or breakage in this book, just a single line of consciousness.

One is the story of Georgia who has just lost her mother. She is learning to deal with it while stepping into her adolescence at the same time. Her story is set in London in the present.
The second story is of the renaissance artist, Francesco Del Cossa set in Rome of the 1460s. She dresses like a man to be allowed the work of an artist in the patriarchal society where she lived. These two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn.

The lives of these two protagonists, though separated by centuries, are majestically intertwined in this piece of art. This book asks the question: does the present has the impact on our pasts?

First Line Of The Book (in mine)-Consider this moral conundrum for a moment, George’s mother says to George who’s sitting in the front passenger seat.

3. The God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images

This 1997 Man Booker prize novel was the first Indian book to receive the award. The book is set in Kerala in the 1960s. This one is all about breaking the norms and prejudices of the society while finding the meaning of true love. Kerala is on the verge of a revolutionary change and the identical twins, Esthappa and Rahel are learning to live in this brutal and hypocritical society with their single mother, Amma. Velutha, who is an untouchable boy plays a crucial role in this novel. If I would choose one word for this novel it would be BRAVE. The first one of its writer, this novel asks the question: when and whom should be loved, and by how much.

First Line Of The Book- May in Ayemenem is a hot, brooding month.

4. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images

Japan has just witnessed the most apocalyptic situation, after the II World War. In this masterpiece, it is just hit the 2012 Tsunami. Ruth, who lives on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, has found, on the sea shores, a diary of a teenage girl from Japan. By reading her diary Ruth forms an unnamed relationship with Nao Yasutani, the owner of the lost diary, who might’ve lost her life in the Tsunami. This book is also about Nao’s 104 year great grandmother Jiko. She is a Zen Buddhist and is readying herself to depart the world in the monastery. There she teaches Nao her life lessons, of how cruel the world could be, of how one should always LIVE. Nao finds about her uncle Haruki, who was an air force pilot in the Japanese Air Force during the II World War. Spanning over two continents and centuries, this novel is about magic and loss, about how world appears to the youth of Japan, post the turmoil their country had just witnessed. The pages of the diary changes the lives of their reader.

First Line Of The Book-Hi! My name is Nao, and I am a time being.

5. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images

It is quite difficult to describe this book but one thing I can surely say about this book is that this book has the best TWIST I had read in any book. Many books had been written about sibling love and rivalry but this one proves to be the best. This book, set in 1996 of the USA, is about Rosemary Cooke who doesn’t talk very much. She had a sister, Fern, her whirlwind other half, who vanished from her life in circumstance she could never forget and never remember. She hasn’t met her older brother, Lowell, in ten years. Now at college Rosemary starts to see that she can’t go further without going back, back to the time when, aged five, she was sent home to her grandparents and returned to find her Fern gone. This book gives a new meaning to sibling love and rivalry and would surely change your perception about your brothers and sisters. This book defines the meaning and worth of having a FAMILY.

First Line Of The Book-Those who know me now will be surprised to learn that I was a great talker as a child.

The above books appeals to the young adults all around the world. These were critically acclaimed and have won various accolades throughout the globe. The writers of these novels put their hearts out on the paper. The writers of these books themselves admit that writing them was a very lengthy process. It often took them five to six years to write these masterpieces. I would highly recommend to all of you to read them at least once to get the true gist of great literature.

“Good Friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”

-Mark Twain.

By- Utkarsh Panwar

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