BOOK REVIEW: COLUM MCCANN – APEIROGON

Today, I am back with a final review before the Booker Prize shortlist is revealed tomorrow! It’s Apeirogon by Colum McCann.

Firstly, this is going to be my last book review before the shortlist is announced of the Booker Prize tomorrow! I haven’t posted my review of Shuggie Bain but I am hoping that would make the shortlist or if not, I will still post it because it’s one of my favourites on the list. But back to today’s review and it’s all about Apeirogon by Colum McCann. There’s a lot of controversy and debate surrounding the book but in this review, I’m just going to focus on the book. But what is it about? Here is the synopsis:

Rami Elhanan and Bassam Aramin live near one another – yet they exist worlds apart. Rami is Israeli. Bassam is Palestinian. Rami’s license plate is yellow. Bassam’s license plate is green. It takes Rami fifteen minutes to drive to the West Bank. The same journey for Bassam takes an hour and a half.

Both men have lost their daughters. Rami’s thirteen-year-old girl Smadar was killed by a suicide bomber while out shopping with her friends. Bassam’s ten-year-old daughter Abir was shot and killed by a member of the border police outside her school. There was a candy bracelet in her pocket she hadn’t had time to eat yet.
The men become the best of friends.

In this epic novel – named for a shape with a countably infinite number of sides – Colum McCann crosses centuries and continents, stitching time, art, history, nature and politics into a tapestry of friendship, love, loss and belonging. Musical, muscular, delicate and soaring, Apeirogon is the novel for our times.

Before the long-list was announced, this was a book I just knew for sure would be on the list. Even when it was first published, I had an incline that this would be on there – it just has this Booker book look, to me. And here we are! On the long-list!

This is a novel unlike anything I have read before, especially in its structure. It’s a story told in segments. Sometimes it’s long paragraphs, one word, a blank space, an image, etc and he plays with the idea of what is a ‘novel’. I think there’s a sensitivity with this book being a true story and an important story to share but for me, this novel just didn’t work for me.

“Apeirogon: a shape with a countably infinite number of sides.”

For me, the best parts in this book is the middle section where we hear from them themselves and I wanted more of that as that was the parts that I connected with the most. The rest, the other segments, mostly didn’t do it for me and I think I would personally like to have more of the middle passages. I know I said I wanted to see more creativity in some Booker Prize long-listed authors this year in how they tell their stories and he does this in the novel but in this instance, it didn’t work for me overall.

There’s an importance and an urgency to this novel and I think it’s an important story to share but there is a line of sensitivity there, too. I enjoyed how he used the idea of a “novel” to tell this story of fragments of grief but there was just something about that didn’t click or work for me. Perhaps it’s the debate around the book, the wrong timing, who knows. I can see why it’s on the long-list and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s on the shortlist but for me, it was one of my least favourites on the list.

Have you read Apeirogon? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you,

Corey.

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