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Kate Atkinson – Life After Life

When were you happiest? This is one of those questions that pop up in celebrity questionnaires in weekend colour supplements. The answers are fairly predictable or, at least, the variation in the replies is quite limited. (An alternative question – when were you unhappiest? – would elicit, I reckon, a far greater range of responses. But who would dare ask it?)

We can all look back and pinpoint our happiest times. In Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, Clarissa could identify ‘the most exquisite moment of her whole life.’ And that moment was fleeting.

Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist

Kate Atkinson plies her craft in Life After Life, to show how lives can swing between misery and happiness almost on a whim, on a chance event, on a minor decision, say, to set our earlier, rather than later, to meet someone at a train station. Her story is forever retracing itself as her characters ‘revisit’ the same events, responding differently each time and thus precipitating vastly different outcomes. It’s no surprise that the novel is on the longlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Read more

Women’s Prize for Fiction Contender: Elif Shafak

Elif ShafakStill two weeks to go before the shortlist is announced for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2013 (formerly the Orange Prize for Fiction) and I’ve just finished Honour by Elif Shafak, in contention as one of 20 longlisted novels. I’m rather ambitiously planning to read the shortlisted novels as part of Anne’s April Reading Challenge – a challenge that also encompasses a bunch of books vying for the Arthur C Clarke Prize.

‘Honour’ by Elif Shafak

This is the first novel I’ve read by Elif Shafak, who writes in both English and Turkish. Her novel The Bastard of Istanbul was longlisted for The Orange Prize and she is also well known for The Forty Rules of Love. Shafak has written eight novels to date. Read more