Redhill's Consolation Wins Toronto Book Award, Passed Over by Man Booker

Michael Redhill's latest novel Consolation has been in the news quite a bit recently, and for good reason. The book has just won the 2007 Toronto Book Award, and I'm sure Redhill is anxiously waiting for the shortlist announcement today RIGHT NOW by the Man Booker people, of which he is WAS a contender for. (The news just came in, Consolation was passed over by the Bookers.)

I picked up Consolation a couple of days ago, and I found the beginning a tad confusing. This, however, I find normal. Either just for me, or because every story has to grab the reader right off the bat, and one effective way of doing that is to incite intrigue.

The book follows the story of two Toronto inhabitants, living centuries apart, cosmically entwined. The fact that the novel is set in Toronto makes it a desirable read for me. Add to that the professions of the characters involved- an apothecary turned photographer and a forensic geologist- and it seems this novel was written almost specifically for me.

I'm only on page 88 of the book, and already it's full of imagery and symbolism (opium and eggs?) and fantastic descriptions of the city circa 1856. It's been a while since I've read a book that I think about, even when I'm not actually reading it. Whether this is because the book is splattered all over the internet due to the various award announcements, or because it's just that good, is irrelevant. In my mind, each are confirmations of the other.

Redhill received $11 000 for winning the Toronto Book Award, and could possibly get an additional 50 000 pounds, if Consolation is short-listed and wins the Man Booker. Each year, the Man Booker Prize awards an original full-length novel by a citizen of either the Commonwealth of Nations or the Republic of Ireland.

The last time a Canadian won this most prestigious of literary prizes was back in 2002. Yann Martel's Life of Pi became a must-read around the world, and I wish Redhill luck at repeating that success with Consolation. If he doesn't get short-listed, the book is still deemed a success in the author's hometown, which is just as, if not more, important as international renown.

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