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Booker Prize 2019 Shortlist: Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman


The longest book on the longlist.

This one made the shortlist which gave us all the opportunity to actually read it so how did we get on…

Book Worm’s Thoughts: I honestly can’t see how this even made the longlist let alone the shortlist, it is the first book I have ever considered not finishing (and trust me the 1001 list makes you read some rubbish) the only reason I have kept going is that it is on the shortlist.

Why this could win: Because it’s the longest book on the list, I honestly can’t see any other reason.

Why it might not win: A book that has no punctuation and has to use the same phrase over 16,000 is not a great book it is a lazy and repetitive book.

Anita’s Thoughts:  Truth in commentary, I’ve only read 15% of this book.  Even at 1% a day, it feels like a slog.

Why this could win:  It’s a very original structure with a definite politically liberal bent that I think would be popular with the intellectual set.  There are moments of very keen insight strewn throughout.  Also, the last time I felt this way about a Booker nominee, it won.  Ahem, Milkman.

Why it might not win:  It’s way too clever and way too long for its own good.  A wonderful premise that uses an unnecessarily gimmicky structure that for many readers will wear thin quickly.  It actually creates boredom despite a fresh central character.

Nicole’s Thoughts:   I’ve read two percent.  What I’ve read so far I like.  I think it’s really clever and funny – the fact is, it could get old.  The fact is, I love that it’s just random word associations.  The fact is, I could end up loving it – In 38 hours if and when I finish it.  LOL  I’m actually really excited about it.

Why this could win:  Clever, funny and truly original.

Why it might not win:  Too damned long.

Tracy’s Thoughts:  I know there are a lot of people who liked this book. I’m not one of them. If the judges are enamored with it, it will be fascinating to see if it actually sells, since it’s a doorstopper. That being said, I’m afraid this just might win. 

Why this could win:  It’s weird. It’s a chunkster. People may read it to feel more erudite. 

Susie’s Thoughts: I confess to only being part way through Ducks but I’m finding it wildly unique, intriguing, and relatable.

Why this could win: Ellmann pushes the boundaries and has come up with something unique and interesting.

Why it might not win: It’s 1000 pages of ’the fact that’!

Lisa’s Thoughts: I couldn’t start it. I can’t do all those pages of stream of consciousness.

Why this could win:  I hope it doesn’t.

Why it might not win:  too much stream of consciousness? no one could get through the whole book?



4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Thanks for the review comments. I will now definitely cross Ducks off my Books I want to Read list. Zap – gone! life is too short!


    October 3, 2019
  2. pbtanita #

    I am now up to 25%. It has not improved for me one bit so for any readers on the fence, you can probably try 20 pages or so and know exactly what to do.

    I feel like a child on a long car ride. Are we there yet? Just 800 pages to go . . .ugh.


    October 3, 2019
  3. It’s so funny and I really enjoy it when I’m reading it, but wow it’s hard to make any progress.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 6, 2019
    • pbtanita #

      Glad you at least are enjoying it when you are reading it. I can’t make any progress either, and I’m not enjoying it much. Someone did tell me that it didn’t click with them until the 30% mark or so, so I may continue on til there.


      October 10, 2019

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