Ed Wood 15 December 2011 - 10:10am
The We Love This Book team chooses its books of the year for 2011
For me, the finest adult novel of the year - the book that shows why the new Literature Prize will have relevance despite the continuation of the Man Booker.
Some of the best novels this year were by American writers, eligible for the new award but not for its famous competitor. Egan’s novel is the brisk story of lives in and around New York and its music scene, from the hedonistic do-alls at the gigs to the glass-desked moneymen at the top. Obviously, being a masterpiece, it's about far more than that: family, regret, love, the effect of the passing of time upon a person’s spirit.
Much was made at the time of its experimentalism – including (gasp) a chapter written in Powerpoint – but the truth is it plugs into a much older, modernist form of experiment with time, character and viewpoint that wrong-foots the reader with out-of-the-blue early revelations about someone’s future, or reminds them, mistily, of events that happened briefly at the novel’s start. It’s short too, which is more than can be said of the other literary fiction books on this list.