I have benefited from travel in Italy and a keen eye for UK editions in airport bookshops and the like:
1. A.S. Byatt, Ragnarok: The End of the Gods. Beautifully written, mixing moods from fantasy and Icelandic sagas, but it did nothing for me. Some of you will like it.
2. Audur Ava Olafsdottir, The Greenhouse. From Iceland, one of my favorite novels this year, it’s funny and sheer fun to read and short and easy yet deep and moving all at the same time.
3. Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending. This one just won the Booker Prize. At first I thought it was contrived, then I realized it was deliberately contrived, and then I thought it was contrived in its deliberate construction of the contrivance, and so on. I’ll try it again, in the spirit of being fooled by prizes, in the meantime you may be better off reading “spoilers” about the book before you start it, so you can skip right to your final opinion.
4. Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot. I’ve read only thirty pages but so far I’m impressed, I doubt the so-so reviews of the book, and note I have never loved his work in the first place. This one has potential.
5. Michael Ondaatje, The Cat’s Table, above average.
The new Ha Jin sits in my pile, he is underrated. Next week Murakami and Nadas join that pile, lots to do!