I was surprised that this was a Booker winner. Or even entered for that matter. There is nothing original in the story, the telling of the story or anything else notable. Even the chapters follow form. It is an easy read, so I read it very quickly, so in that sense it could be said that it was well-written and with enough to keep me coming back. I did finish it, so credit there. The writing style was crisp and efficient.
The story follows a very well-worn format. It could have been a tale about anyone from the 1940s to the 1980s. I suppose the appeal was that a lot of people could identify with it, the London pub, smoky working-class atmospheres. The tale is about a group of friends as they distribute the shes of their recently deceased friend as per his wishes. They reflect on their own lives, regrets, anger and extra-curricular activities. Mainly from the male perspective and the stereotypical roles they find themselves in.
There are no twists nor surprises. The one 'reveal' in the book I had already expected. It was a very typical soap opera kind of story, parochial and domestic. The kind of gossip my old mum tells me about. Often.
WINNER OF THE BOOKER PRIZE 1996
Published by Picador 26 January 1996.