November 21, 2011 by markstani
The shortlist for this year’s Costa First Novel award is interesting, and unusually global. It spans works set in Jamaica, the Niger Delta, crumbling Communist Romania and a futuristic Ireland. It’s another honour for Patrick McGuinness, whose ‘The Last Hundred Days’ was longlisted for this year’s MAN Booker Prize. Here are the opening lines to the four shortlisted books:
CITY OF BOHANE by Kevin Barry (Jonathan Cape)
Whatever’s wrong with us is coming in off that river. No argument: the taint of badness on the city’s air is a taint off that river. This is the Bohane river we’re talking about. A blackwater surge, malevolent, it roars in off the Big Nothin’ wastes and the city was spawned by it and was named for it: city of Bohane.
THE LAST HUNDRED DAYS by Patrick McGuinness (Seren)
In 1980s Romania, boredom was a state of extremity. There was nothing neutral about it: it strung you out and stretched you; it tugged away at the bottom of your day like shingle scraping at a boat’s hull.
TINY SUNBIRDS FAR AWAY by Christie Watson (Quercus)
Father was a loud man. His voice entered a room before he did. From my bedroom window I could hear him sitting in the wide gardens, or walking to the car parking area filled with Mercedes, or standing by the security guard’s office, or the gate in front.
PAO by Kerry Young (Bloomsbury)
Me and the boys was sitting in the shop talking ’bout how good business was and how we need to go hire up some help and that is when she show up. She just appear in the doorway like she come outta nowhere. She was standing there with the sun shining on her showing off this hat, well it was more a kind of turban, like the Indians wear, only it look ten times better than that. Or maybe it just look ten times better on her.