Seeing as I was able to stick to my new year's resolution ("I will finish my thesis in 2011!") and so far I'm on track with NaNoWriMo I've been thinking of my next set of goals. One fairly significant one I've decided on is this:
I will read the shortlisted novels for the Man Booker, Miles Franklin and Finlandia awards.
I intend that particular goal as a sort of new year's resolution, but once semester is over I might as well do my best to plough through this year's crop. Of course it's misguided in some ways to let an award direct your reading, but I like the idea of trying to do this each year. Reading a dozen or so books a year isn't difficult, even as 'homework', and I like the idea of using the shortlist as a way to gage something of the literary output in different contexts. In addition, I've read very little fiction in the last few years - and I still find footnotes to be a very comforting presence on the page - so I feel I need a little hand-holding as to what to read.
For those who are interested, the 2011 award frenzy reading list would be
Man Booker: Snowdrops (Miller), Pigeon English (Kelman), Half Blood Blues (Edugyan), The Sisters Brothers (deWitt), Jamrach's Menagerie (Birch).
Miles Franklin: Bereft (Womersley), That Deadman Dance (Scot), When Colts Ran (McDonald)
Finlandia: Kallorumpu (Aronen), William N. päiväkirja (Carlson), Huorasatu (Gustafsson), Minä, Katariina (Hirvisaari), Hytti nro 6 (Liksom), Isänmaan tähden (Linturi).
The seeming contrast between the Miles Franklin list and the Finlandia list is particularly enticing: one criticism of the former has been that it defines Australia in very narrow terms: "isn’t it striking that Australian life, according to the Miles Franklin judges, is still represented by the past and the outback, and is written in a male voice."(source) By contrast, this year's Finlandia shortlist features only female authors. I don't want to make any more of this than is fair, but it does promise a fair range of texts to be grappling with...