September 22, 2011 by markstani
Here are the opening paragraphs for the 10 books longlisted for the 2011 Guardian First Book Award. The Villalobos book was picked by members of the public. They’re a fine-looking mix of fact, fiction, politics and poetry.
The Possessed by Elif Batuman (Granta)
In Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain, a young man named Hans Castorp arrives at a Swiss sanatorium to visit his tubercular cousin for three weeks. Although Castorp himself does not have tuberculosis, he somehow ends up staying in that sanatorium for seven years.
Sidereal by Rachel Boast (Picador)
Anything to overwhelm
your own thoughts and feelings,
you took to touring the waterfalls –
Lodore, Moss Force, Scale Force –
for their savage sounds.
The Book Of Lies by Mary Horlock (Canongate)
My name is Catherine Rozier, please don’t call me Cathy. If you do I’ll jump. Don’t think I’m bluffing. It’s a 3000-foot drop and even though I’m fat, I’m not fat enough to bounce.
Chavs by Owen Jones (Verso)
It’s an experience we’ve all had. You’re among a group of friends or acquaintances when suddenly someone says something that shocks you: an aside or a flippant comment made in poor taste.
Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman (Bloomsbury)
You could see the blood. It was darker than you thought. It was all on the ground outside Chicken Joe’s. It just felt crazy.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Harvill Secker)
The circus arrives without warning.
No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions on advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.
The Emperor Of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee (Fourth Estate)
On the morning of May 19, 2004, Carla Reed, a thirty-year-old kindergarten teacher from Ipswich, Massachusetts, a mother of three young children, woke up in bed with a headache.
Down The Rabbit Hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos (And Other Stories)
Some people say I’m precocious. They say it mainly because they think I know difficult words for a little boy. Some of the difficult words I know are: sordid, disastrous, immaculate, pathetic and devastating.
The Collaborator by Mirza Waheed (Penguin)
Captain Kadian takes a large swig from his glass tumbler, closes his eyes for a moment, smacks his lips and says, ‘The job’s not that hard, you see, you just go down once a week or fifteen days, and the money, the money is not bad at all.’
The Submission by Amy Waldman (Heinemann)
‘The names,’ Claire said. ‘What about the names?’
‘They’re a record, not a gesture,’ the sculptor replied. Ariana’s words brought nods from the other artists, the critic, and the two purveyors of public art arrayed along the dining table, united beneath her sway.