Skip to content

Booker Longlist – Apeirogon – Colum McCann

ap

 

Book Three – reviewed by panelists Jen, Tracy, Susie and rated by BookWorm and Nicole

Colum McCann was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland and has since also lived in Japan and the United States. 

Synopsis from Booker Prize website: 

How do we continue to live after the most precious thing is lost?

Rami Elhanan and Bassam Aramin live near one another – yet they exist worlds apart. Rami is Israeli. Bassam is Palestinian. Rami’s license plate is yellow. Bassam’s license plate is green. It takes Rami fifteen minutes to drive to the West Bank. The same journey for Bassam takes an hour and a half. Both men have lost their daughters. Rami’s thirteen-year-old girl Smadar was killed by a suicide bomber while out shopping with her friends. Bassam’s ten-year-old daughter Abir was shot and killed by a member of the border police outside her school. There was a candy bracelet in her pocket she hadn’t had time to eat yet. The men become the best of friends.
In this epic novel – named for a shape with a countably infinite number of sides – Colum McCann crosses centuries and continents, stitching time, art, history, nature and politics into a tapestry of friendship, love, loss and belonging. Musical, muscular, delicate and soaring, it is a book for our times from a writer at the height of his powers.

 

Jen’s Thoughts: I loved this everything about this book. 2020 has been a rough reading year for me and I’m pleased that I was able to manage at least one of the longlist books. Over the years I’ve come to discover my love of books with non-linear plots that weave materials in and out and move fluidly across time and subject matter. McCann masterfully moves across time, breaking the linear structure by bringing in connected history, images, nature, art, music, and more to enhance and highlight various elements of his story. The central timeline is a single day in life of two fathers, an Israeli and a Palestinian, who share the unimaginable grief of having lost their children to violence. The pieces woven into this central narrative span centuries. The writing was beautiful and book was structurally brilliant and thoroughly engaging. I found it interesting that an Irish novelist should chose this topic for his book but the author draws parallels with Ireland a few times within the novel. Comprised of 1001 chapters (a nod to Arabian nights), it was a clever, heart-breaking but hopeful novel.

Writing quality: 5/5
Originality: 4/5
Character development: 4/4
Plot development: 4/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 19/20

Tracy’s Thoughts: 

My on/off relationship with Colum McCann is on again! 

This was a hard book to read, and I’m sure it was harder for him to write. First off, this is based on two very real men- one Israeli and one Palestinian, who are friends. It almost doesn’t qualify as fiction, since it closely follows these men. (This clarification is needed because I’ve heard some people claiming cultural appropriation). 

But the beauty of the writing, the tiptoeing of the author to show no bias to either side of the Palestine/Israel conflict, and the heartbreaking stories the two men share with others is so well done. This made me look up more about the area, since the US news tends to report from the Israeli side only. There is a lot to learn for many of us, and I’m glad that McCann took this on. It’s an important book.

Writing quality: 5/5
Originality: 4/5
Character development: 4/4
Plot development: 3/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 17/20

Susie’s Thoughts: 

Apeirogon, a polygon with an infinite yet countable number of sides. A story of one thousand and one parts, inspired by the storytelling of One Thousand and One Nights. McCann seams fiction and non-fiction into a story of Israel and Palestine, although this has led to some speculation that the inclusion of non-fiction means it should not have been eligible for the Booker. Regardless, it has been included. It’s a story of love and loss; a story of friendship born from tragedy. It’s an emotionally charged plea for peace. It is complex, as complex as its subject matter, yet accessible, with an experimental and non-linear structure that had me glued to the page. I cried real tears as I felt the grief of these two men from opposing sides, but also the hope for peace that they both held close; ‘It will not be over until we talk’. Overall, Apeirogon is a powerful and memorable piece of writing. I am thrilled to see it on the longlist and would be equally thrilled to see it win.

Writing quality: 5/5
Originality: 5/5
Character development: 4/4
Plot development: 4/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 20/20

 

Ratings:

BookWorm’s Ratings: 4 stars

Writing quality: 4/5
Originality: 3/5
Character development: 3/4
Plot development: 2/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 14/20

Nicole’s Review and rating 

Writing quality: 5/5
Originality: 5/5
Character development: 4/4
Plot development: 4/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 20/20

Rankings

  1. Apeirogon 18
  2. Such a Fun Age 11.1
  3. Redhead at the Side of the Road 11

Did you love it as much as we did?

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: