Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The 2013 Tony's Reading List Awards

Welcome one and all to the post you've all been waiting for, the culmination of a year's reading and reviewing - The Tony's Reading List Awards for 2013!  For the fifth year in a row, I'm summing up a year of literary delights, praising the good, mocking the bad, and consigning the ugly to the great remainder basket in the sky.

So, without further ado, let's get started...

As always, the first prize is the Most-Read Author Award, and as I need to have read three books by the same author in the year, the shortlist is, well, pretty short...

Aira is a writer I first encountered this year, and he takes out the award straight away - well done, sir :)

There were a lot of writers stuck on two books (including perpetual winner Anthony Trollope), but only these three made it past that mark.  It's also worth noting that the four books I read by the winner probably only comprised 400 pages in total...

Next up, it's the Most-Read Country Award - which country have I visited most in my literary travels this year?

1) Japan (26)
2) Argentina (11)
3) Germany (8)
4) France (6)

No contest this year - Japan takes the prize, hands down :)  I wouldn't have expected Argentina to be up there, but with Aira and Borges high on my reading agenda, I suppose it was inevitable.  Surprisingly, England fails to even make the list, being one of several countries on five books.

If we look at the annual statistics for English-language books versus the rest of the world, my focus on literature in translation becomes very clear.  Of the 130 books I read, only 13 were originally published in English, meaning that an amazing 117 (of which I read 22 in the original language) were originally written in a language other than English. 

That's exactly 90% - wow...

The third award tonight is the one which most people enjoy - yes, it's time to dish out the drumsticks and find out who has won the Golden Turkey Award this year!  And the nominees are...

And the winner is... Rustic Baroque!  Why?  Well, firstly I have to apologise to Jiří Hájíček as I quite enjoyed his book.  Sadly, I felt that Gale A. Kirking's translation really let down an interesting story...

But enough of the dross - it's time to get on with the big one, namely the Book of the Year Award!  As has been the case for a couple of years now, I have nominated a great read in each of my monthly wrap-ups, and these are the books that have fought their way through to my annual longlist (links are to my reviews).  It's a harsh system, but I'm a harsh man...

January - The Old Capital by Yasunari Kawabata (Japan)
February - War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (Russia)
March - The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker (Netherlands)
April - Seven Types of Ambiguity by Elliot Perlman (Australia)
May - A Heart so White by Javier Marías (Spain)
June - Stone upon Stone by Wiesław Myśliwski (Poland)
July - Three Strong Women by Marie NDiaye (France)
August - The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann (Germany)
September - The Sorrow of Angels by Jón Kalman Stefánsson (Iceland)
October - The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante (Italy)
November - Woodcutters by Thomas Bernhard (Austria)
December - Blinding: The Left Wing by Mircea Cărtărescu (Romania)

I'm sure you'll agree - that is a great list of books :)  Where do they come from?  Well, interestingly this year's final dozen come from twelve different countries and were written in eleven different languages (two were written in German).  Only one Anglophone book among this bunch...

And what's a shortlist without a longlist?  Nothing, that's what ;)  Here, then, are the cream of the crop for this year...

War and Peace
Seven Types of Ambiguity
A Heart so White
The Magic Mountain
The Sorrow of Angels

At which point, the many sides of my persona fought it out behind the locked doors of my self-conscious, only emerging (bruised and bleeding...) when a winner had been chosen.  And here it is - the Tony's Reading List Book of the Year for 2013 is (highlight below to see the winner):

War and Peace

I was tempted to go for one of the newer novels, but sometimes you just have to admit that a book is a classic for a reason - and Tolstoy's epic is nothing if not a classic :)

And that's it - year five on the blog is complete :)  Thanks to everyone who has read or commented on my posts this year...

...but stay tuned for January in Japan!