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Our 7 Favorite Man Booker Prize Winning Books

Our 7 Favorite Man Booker Prize Winning Books

The Man Booker Prize was established in 1969 and, for nearly fifty years, has honored the best of the best English language novels. Being the readers we are, we try to keep up with the winners, since the prize is basically a guarantee that you’re going to be getting a good story. Obviously, some novels have connected with us better than others. These are our favorite books that have won the Man Booker Prize.

Lincoln in the Bardo | 2017

George Saunders

Just in case you didn’t get it from one of our earlier recommendations, Lincoln in the Bardo is a book well worth reading. It’s unique, written by George Saunders, and is Saunders’s first foray into full-length novel territory. The cast of characters is well-developed and endlessly entertaining, with personalities from across historical eras bouncing off each other in surprisingly natural ways. If we were at all nervous about Saunders’s ability to jump from short to long fiction, we’ve been fully convinced he’s a capable writer no matter the length. $12

A Brief History of Seven Killings | 2015

Marlon James

We’re slightly ashamed to say our first significant dip into Jamaican culture came from the second season of Luke Cage, but we’re glad we got the introduction. There are some great stories wrapped up in the lives on and from that island. One such story is A Brief History of Seven Killings, a book about Jamaica and Jamaican dominated places of the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. The book kicks off around the same time someone tried their damnedest to kill Bob Marley in December of 1976 and takes a fictional but historically faithful journey through the rest of Jamaica. $10

True History of the Kelly Gang | 2001

Peter Carey

It’s entirely possible that Australia has us beat when it comes to lawlessness in a desert. If you want to know for yourself, read Blood Meridian and True History of the Kelly Gang and compare. Either way, read True History of the Kelly Gang. It’s written as if Ned Kelly, the leader of the gang, could only get his hands on a few scraps of paper at a time and has to give fractured, half-complete descriptions of his exploits. He’s clearly not completely educated, but his love for his lifestyle and freedom are contagious, pulling you right into the story he’s weaving. $12

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha | 1993

Roddy Doyle

Kids like Paddy Clarke are cursed with an incomplete understanding of the world. It’s clear that he’s wise beyond his years, as he scrapes together a childhood in the Dublin of the late 1960s. But he’s missing critical pieces of information that, while they might not make his life easier, he’d at least be able to make more informed decisions based on. For example, his parents’ marriage is definitely in trouble, that weird guy he sees everywhere is probably a pedophile, and schoolyard fights and bullies aren’t the end of the world. What Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha does extraordinarily well is help the reader piece together their own childhood, realizing what they missed and why they turned out the way they did. You don’t have to grow up in Dublin to appreciate Paddy Clarke. You just have to have been a child. $14

The Famished Road | 1991

Ben Okri

Any writer who can capably handle the supernatural is one worth keeping an eye on. Ben Okri proved himself with The Famished Road, the story of an abiku, one of the spirit children of the Yoruba tradition in Nigeria, named Azaru. The child foresees a life of pain and misery for himself as he’s resurrected, and has to deal with the constant temptation of rejoining an afterlife that looks and feels a lot less complicated than what he’s experiencing when he’s alive. It’s relatable to a scary degree, even if we’ve never been quite so hard up as Azaru. $17

The Conservationist | 1974

Nadine Gordimer

Normally, we try to stay away from books where the super-wealthy are the main characters, but when the story is about them losing everything, we have to admit we have a bit of sadistic attraction to the book. It’s probably not the healthiest reaction, but if it keeps introducing us to great literature like The Conservationist, who are we to question it? Join us in reading about a wealthy South African slowly lose everything, to the point where it seems even the oldest gods imaginable hate his guts. $13

Troubles | 1970 (Awarded 2010)

J.G. Farrell

Troubles is part of the thematically related Empire trilogy, in which J.G. Farrell explores various regions in the old British Empire and how the British eventually brought about their own downfall in these places. Troubles takes place in Ireland and follows the fall of a wealthy Anglo-Irish family and their hotel during the Irish War of Independence and ensuing troubles Ireland experienced. The world’s been devoid of traditional empires since the end of the Second World War, so having a book like this reminds us what it looks like when a modern nation tries to maintain an antiquated idea of territorial control, a lesson it seems the world can’t stop needing. $18

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