2018 In Review: And The Winner Is...

on Monday, December 31, 2018

Ok, I know what you're thinking. Here he goes again... And you're right. But let me explain.

Contrary to the belief of pretty much everyone who knows my reading habits, I don't give Jesse Ball an automatic gold star for everything he writes. And the release of a new book doesn't just nullify every other great book I read in any given year. It's just the guy is so bloody good. Even in his lesser moments he still manages to impress. And when he is at Peak Jesse (I've decided it's a thing), there's probably nobody writing like him today. Census, by any estimation, is Peak Jesse. Inspired by the death of his brother (well, actually the life of his brother), it is a novel of such profound beauty, so rich in creative warmth, that ten months after having first read it I still melt whenever it crosses my mind. Very few books have had that effect on me. Maybe Binu and the Great Wall, Melisande! What Are Dreams or Censoring an Iranian Love Story.

As I said back in March:

"Census is a deeply humane and tender novel, brimming with compassion, deep and original thought, sweetness and, yes, even humour. It asks big questions, and offers gentle guidance towards meaningful answers. It also throws down the gauntlet for how future writers might consider engaging artistically with their loss."

I have now read Census three times. If I could wipe my brain just to discover it anew I probably would. Little surprise then, that like The Curfew and Silence Once Begun before it, Census lands Jesse Ball the Bait For Bookworms Book of the Year.

Now bring on 2019.


Post a Comment