2008 Everything Is Nice Book Awards
Book Of The Year: House Of Meetings by Martin Amis
Yellow Dog was a mess, his journalism has been lacklustre and his commentary has been bigoted, idiotic and disappointing. House Of Meetings makes you forget all this. It is a blinding work of genius which is in no way diminished by channelling Nabokov so strongly. More of this and less op-eds please (although The Pregnant Widow sounds a bit rubbish.)
Runners up: On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan and The Astonishing Life Of Octavian Nothing: Traitor To The Nation by MT Anderson
Science Fiction Book Of The Year: Anathem by Neal Stephenson
There are undoubtably problems with this book and my runners up are perhaps better novels but this is an astonishing work of science fiction of a sort that no one but Stephenson could produce. As I said in my review: “one part hubris to one part taking the piss to one part gnarly geek awesomeness.”.
Runners Up: The Knife Of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon.
Worst Book Of The Year: The Edge Of Reason by Melinda Snodgrass
To quote from the opening of my as yet unpublished review:
Imagine if Richard Dawkins was not only American but retarded. Imagine he taught himself to read using the work of illiterate megasellers like James Patterson and Tess Gerritsen. Imagine he further fleshed out his understanding of human nature on a diet of romance novels and misery memoirs. Finally, imagine he stayed up one night getting drunk and watching piss-poor police procedurals before having the sudden brainwave of re-writing American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Imagine all that and you have imagined Melinda Snodgrass’s dire The Edge Of Reason and thus saved yourself the pain of actually reading it.
Runners up: The Electric Church by Jeff Somers and A Short History Of Tractors In Ukranian by Marina Lewycka
Disappointment Of The Year: Life Class by Pat Barker
This isn’t a bad book, in fact, it is a good book. However, after the stunning duet of Border Crossing and Double Vision this feels like a pale retread of the Regeneration Trilogy. I want more from my favourite British writer.
Runners up: Un Lun Dun by China Miéville and Matter by Iain M Banks
Guilty Pleasure Of The Year: Death’s Head by David Gunn
AS the book’s jacket tells us, Gunn is “smartly dressed, resourceful and discreet, [he] has an impressive collection of edged weapons and sleeps with a shotgun under his bed.” This is braindead MilSF that somehow managed to charm me. I must pick up the second volume.
Runners up: Choke by Chuck Palahnuik and Bunker 10 by JA Henderson
Most Overrated Book Of The Year: Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
I form part of a nucleus of British SF fans who recoiled from the near universal praise for this simplistic, didactic novel. The idea of spoonfeeding kids the tools of dissent is an admirable one but I could have done without the cartoonish politics, non-existant characterisation, rubbish plot and – most of all – the Cory Sue protagonist.
Runners up: How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff and The H-Bomb Girl by Steven Baxter
Why Didn’t I read That Before? Award: The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
Runners up: The Unbearable Lightness Of Being by Milan Kundera and A Canticle For Lieberwitz by Walter Miller Jr