Sunday, 30 December 2012

The 2012 Tony's Reading List Awards

Welcome to the fourth annual Tony's Reading List Awards, a time for me to look back at the year's reading and sort through the winners and the grinners, the dull and the dreary, the terrific and the terrible - you get the drift (if you'd like to look back at what happened in 2009, 2010 and 2011, be my guest!).

There are a number of awards to be handed out this evening, and I'll be commenting all the while on little interesting stats about my reading year, so let's get on with it, shall we?  Drum roll, please ;)

As always, the first prize up is 2012's Most-Read Author Award - and the winner is:

1) Anthony Trollope (4)
2) Sjón (3)

Trollope takes home the gong for the third consecutive year - well done, sir!
The lack of contenders here is because my cut-off point was three books by one writer, and only two managed to fit that criteria this year.  This is due to a much wider spread of reading this year and can also be seen in the results of my next category...

...which is the Most-Read Country Award!

1=) Germany (18)
1=) Japan (18)
3) England (17)
4) Iceland (9)
5) Australia (7)

In a hard-fought battle (with a much wider field of participants), Germany retains the crown it wrested from England last year - but only just.  Japan was very close, and if the year had included January 2013, we may have had a new champion :)  Stop the Press!  My reading in preparation for January in Japan since writing this post sent J-Lit surging up the charts to share equal billing at the top of the list!

Looking at my original language stats, it's clear to see that my focus shifted even more clearly to translated fiction this year.  Of the 125 books read, just 30 were originally published in English, meaning that a staggering 95 (of which I read 27 in the original language) were originally written in a foreign language.  I'm fairly sure that this is a trend which will continue into 2013 and beyond...

It's now time to hand out the individual honours, and one of the highlights of the literary calendar round these parts is the bestowal of the Golden Turkey Award.  This highly-coveted honour is given to the book which, in my very personal, most subjective opinion, was the biggest waste of my precious reading time over the past twelve months.  And the nominees are: 

The winner (of course) is the truly awful Please Look After Mother, one of the first books I read this year, and without doubt the one I really wish I hadn't bothered with... 

Let's move on now to more pleasant affairs, namely the year's good books.  Each month, in my wrap-up post, I nominate a book or two as my recommendation, and these books form my longlist for the Book of the Year.  This year's nominees (links to my reviews) are:

January - Carpentaria by Alexis Wright
February - In Zeiten des abnehmenden Lichts (In Times of Fading Light) by Eugen Ruge
March - The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro
April - The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst
May - Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum) by Günter Grass
June - Once Were Warriors by Alan Duff
and Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
July - Petersburg by Andrei Bely
and Dublinesque by Enrique Vila-Matas
August - Independent People by Halldór Laxness
September - A l'ombre de jeunes filles en fleurs (Within a Budding Grove) by Marcel Proust
October - Stone Tree by Gyrðir Elíasson
November - Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin
DecemberThe Old Man and his Sons by Heðin Brú
and My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin

The fifteen books on the list come from nine different countries, with Germany's three nominations topping the list.  Australia, England, Spain and Iceland all provided two nominees, while books from Russia, France, New Zealand and the Faroe Islands(!) round out the selection.

In the first three years of the blog, I cheated massively by choosing a series as my pick for the year, but this year I am determined to stick my neck out.  Of the fifteen books above, five stood out enough to make it onto my shortlist:

The Unconsoled
Independent People
Berlin Alexanderplatz

Finally, after lengthy deliberations (and some rather vicious exchanges) in the jury room, a winner was chosen.  The Tony's Reading List Book of the Year for 2012 is:

Andrei Bely's Petersburg

It was an extremely close-run race between Petersburg and Dublinesque, but in the end I had to go for the Russian classic over the Spanish modern classicCongratulations to publishers Pushkin Press for their excellent taste :)

And that's it for 2012, another great year in reading :)  Thanks to everyone who has visited and commented this year - I hope you'll continue to do so in 2013...

...and speaking of 2013, it's already shaping up to be a busy year.  I'm looking forward to taking part in the Shadow Panel again for next year's Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, but before that, there's another event taking up my time.  I'll be spending the first month of 2013 with January in Japan, my first ever blog event.  If you'd like to join me, you know where to look :)