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2015 Man Booker Long List: Satin Island Tom McCarthy

satin island

Satin Island by Tom McCarthy
Published: Feb, 2015
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Find it here: Satin Island

Synopsis (from Amazon): U., a “corporate anthropologist,” is tasked with writing the Great Report, an all-encompassing ethnographic document that would sum up our era. Yet at every turn, he feels himself overwhelmed by the ubiquity of data, lost in buffer zones, wandering through crowds of apparitions, willing them to coalesce into symbols that can be translated into some kind of account that makes sense. As he begins to wonder if the Great Report might remain a shapeless, oozing plasma, his senses are startled awake by a dream of an apocalyptic cityscape.

In Satin Island, Tom McCarthy captures—as only he can—the way we experience our world, our efforts to find meaning (or just to stay awake) and discern the narratives we think of as our lives.

Book Worm’s Review: The novel is written as a stream of consciousness from the point of view of U, an anthropologist employed to essentially make sense of humanity. As such, there is only really one character and very little character development.

I enjoyed the writing the way every day occurrences can be transformed by viewing at a distance and the poetical descriptions the author uses.The plot is original in the way that it attempts to explain humanity through statistics and in the building of the argument that our lives are predetermined on a global scale by the technology we use everyday.

What I didn’t like was the fact that something suspicious or devious was hinted at but then never developed. I would have liked a deeper mystery element to the plot. I also found the ending disappointing. It just kind of fizzled out like a damp firework.

In terms of originality this would probably make my shortlist, but in terms of enjoyment it may get knocked out. Here is my scoring for this book:

Available in English 1/1
Published in the UK 1/1
Originality 5/8
Character Complexity 2/5
Writing Quality 4/5
Total: 13/20

Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: Satin Island

Have you this book? What did you think? Should it make the shortlist?

Here is my ranking of long list books so far in descending order of preference:

  1. Lila (15/20)
  2. Satin Island (13/20).

Check back this Friday to see what we both thought of Enright’s The Green Road.