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The Amaryllis Shortlist

In News by Lutyens RubinsteinLeave a Comment

To the strains of Rachmaninov, I have been a long way away but now I have come back to you. Actually, I haven’t physically been that far – who needs to stress out in airports and Eurotunnel with the summer we have had just had. I went to an almost deserted Welsh coast and wouldn’t have swapped it for all the white sands and azure seas in any exotic location. Then I spent some lovely giggly catch up time with my sister, Agapanthus celebrating our amazing intelligent children, true twigs of the old branches!
But now I am back on the page, feistier than ever, inspired by a whole summer of reading which has taken me up to peaks of rapture but also down to the depths of incredulous horror.
And it is with these last dear Reader that unhappily I must begin. For today the Man Booker Shortlist is announced… Devotees of this column will have witnessed my increasing dissatisfaction with the judge’s selection but this year’s longlist really takes the biscuit! For your sake, I have tried, I have really tried to read the chosen thirteen in order to give a fair and balanced opinion but I failed; I had to give up after the first four in order to retain my sanity and faith in the written word.
Anyway it was what they left out that made me tear out some of my luscious locks. No Rachel Cusk or Ali Smith, let alone those unheralded pearls that spread like lighted beacons by word of mouth. So, I think it is time to launch the Amaryllis Prize for Fiction, an award for the best book of the year regardless of gender, race or political correctness. No such vulgar prize as money, just the prestige and perhaps a lovely Amaryllis pot plant to grace any mantelpiece.
Drum roll for the shortlist: (in no particular order)
Winter, Ali Smith
The Ninth Hour, Alice McDermott
All Among the Barley, Melissa Harrison
A Ladder to the Sky, John Boyne
The Hoarder, Jess Kidd
We That Are Young, Preti Taneja
Special mention to Rachel Cusk who deserves an amaryllis for her wonderful loosely linked trilogy ending this year with Kudos.
The overall winner will be announced in my next missive. (The other shortlist has just been announced and is as bad as feared).
I would just like to end by paying tribute to my marvellous book groups and their members: We have just passed the 40th book read mark with my first group but every meeting of every group provides fascinating discussion (90% of the time of the book, but we have touched on several other topics arising) always accompanied with great amiability and humour. I can honestly say I have enjoyed every one of them, true high, bright lights in a sometimes rather dimly lit world. I look forward to many, many more.

About Amaryllis


Amaryllis is our bookshop blogger.


Her pen name is taken from Alice Thomas Ellis’ Other Side of the Fire, which is unfortunately and scandalously out of print. One of the funniest bits in the book is the bodice-ripper that one of the characters is writing and the female - who slays the men with one toss of her raven locks and one glance from her fiery green eyes as she strides among the glens, faithful wolfhound by her side - is Amaryllis! And the name just seemed to suit so here we are.

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