My preferences for the 2011 World Fantasy Awards for Best Novel
October 26, 2011 § 1 Comment
Lauren Beukes, Zoo City
As a whole, this shortlist is very solid, if not uniformly spectacular. I can understand why each of these novels will appeal to quite a few SF/F readers, yet most are not anything that I would call “consensus picks;” most contain elements that will not appeal to a sizable percentage of readers.
For myself, the novel that struck the best balance between prose, characterization, theme, and plot was Joyce’s The Silent Land, with Lord’s Redemption in Indigo a close second. These were the two novels that I enjoyed without reservations and thought were genuinely among the best SF/F that I’ve read over the past two years. A slight step below them were Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and Okorafor’s Who Fears Death. I did enjoy each when I read them back in 2010 and thought each had several strong points, yet I do not find myself thinking as much about my emotional reaction to them as I do with the Joyce and Lord. Beukes’ Zoo City was promising yet ultimately frustrating to read, for reasons that I note in the review I posted earlier tonight. Kay’s Under Heaven I could easily see as appealing to the most readers and being the favorite to win the award, yet, as I noted in my review, it just did not tickle my fancy. These things happen and that’s not an indictment on the novel in particular as it is just a confession that tastes are truly a fickle matter.
What about you? Which novels on this shortlist have you read and what are your thoughts on them?