Ockhams Awards – My pick

Tonight the winners of the Ockham Awards will be announced. I thought it would be fun to read all of the finalists for the Fiction prize and then pick who I thought the winner should be before they are announced. The plan was good, but alas I have only read three, not four.

The four finalists are:

I have yet to read Kawai. I have a lovely hard cover copy that I bought before the finalists were announced, but I knew when I bought it that I would need to be in the right mood to read it. Since I haven’t been in that mood, I didn’t want to risk my enjoyment of the book and therefore judge it unfairly because it wasn’t the right book for the right time.

So while I can’t tell you who would be my pick for winner, I can at least tell you which book from these three I would choose.

While I thoroughly enjoyed Better the Blood, and thought the author did a great job of conveying his message without pulling the reader out of the story, or bludgeoning us with his point, I felt that the story was merely a very good read, and not an award-winning one.

So it’s down to The Axeman’s Carnival versus Mrs Jewell and the wreck of the General Grant. The former told a tale of rough views in rural towns, especially when it comes to animals seen as predators to crops, but more especially about domestic abuse as seen through the eyes of a child (represented as the magpie). The latter, a tale of hardship while trying to survive a shipwreck, imagining what real-life survivors might have gone through. The former had some parts of the story that felt a little shoe-horned to progress plot, the latter did not. And the part that I was most impressed about in The Axeman’s carnival – where I thought the magpie was a stand-in and a commentary on what the situation is like for a child – turns out not to have been the author’s intent (according to a friend who has been to an author event). Mrs Jewell and the wreck of the General Grant however has a story that holds true. So true that I would believe it if I was told this was actually a published diary. It pulled me in and kept a hold over me for the entire book. The level of writing was also just that step higher than The Axeman’s Carnival.

So my choice of the winner would be Mrs Jewell and the wreck of the General Grant.

It will be interesting to see if my choice would hold after reading the fourth finalist.

I’m looking forward to seeing who the winner is this evening. Do the judges agree with me, or have their criteria been different from mine.

If you want to read more about my thoughts for each of these three finalists, follow the links above where you shall find my reviews of each.

Have you read the finalists? Which book would you choose for the winner?

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