10 March 2011

Time to get ready for International Anita Brookner Day

The Case 
Thirty years ago next month, Anita Brookner had her first novel, the aptly titled A Start in Life (or The Debut in the U.S.) published at the tender age of 53. An art historian by profession and author of works of nonfiction, she has managed to produce an additional 23 novels since that first one. So in 30 years Brookner wrote 24 novels, that's 0.8 books per year including the 1984 Booker-winning Hotel du Lac. In my humble opinion each one is brilliant in its own quiet, often depressing way.

The Plan
On July 16th (Brookner's 83rd birthday) I will be hosting International Anita Brookner Day.* I don't quite have the details worked out and more importantly I have yet to come up with a cute, clever button to go along with it. But it is going to be great. Expect prizes.

The Intent
My hope is to get more people to pick up at least one of her 24 novels and give it a try. I know some of you have already read some Brookner, but it seems like there are many more of you out there who have always meant to read something by her and just haven't. Well now is the time. Brookner may not be for everyone, but you have to find that out for yourself.

The Ask
No big commitment. Just read at least one Anita Brookner novel between now and July 16th. Then either come to My Porch on July 16th to tell me what you thought of the book you read or post a link to your review or other Brookner-related post.

***SPECIAL REQUEST: If you are a blogger submitting, please when you submit the link to your review/music post via email, can you also copy and paste the HTML draft of your review/musing in its entirety in the body of your email. I know in Blogger when you are editing a post you can click on the "Edit HTML" tab and then copy every single bit of info there and past it into the body of your email. Hopefully other blog platforms allow you to do likewise. This will greatly help streamline getting your post up on the IABD website.***

Bloggers, once I have my clever graphic ready I am hoping some of you will help me spread the word even if you don't plan to participate yourself.

*As a citizen of the world I felt it was completely appropriate for me to declare July 16, 2011 International Anita Brookner Day. Simon Savidge may be cohosting, he was the one who first put the idea in my head.

13 March - UPDATE
Simon Savidge will indeed be cohosting International Anita Brookner Day. And, I finally came up with a button that I think is worthy of the day. Hopefully you will agree and use it liberally.


  1. Wonderful idea! Will definitely read along even if only to re-read Hotel du Lac. So perfect.

  2. Oh, thank you! First for the idea, but even more for giving us advance notice. I have both Hotel du Lac and Family and Friends on my TBR shelf just waiting for me to get to them. Knowing there will be "discussions" coming will prompt me to move them up the reading stack.

  3. I'm one of the many people who have been meaning to read Brookner for ages. Perhaps this will motivate me to finally read that copy of Hotel Du Lac that's been on my shelves for years now. Love the low-key commitment level--anytime between now and July, I can probably manage that.

  4. Good luck with the project; it's always fun to see someone so enthusiastically embrace their passions. We'll have to agree to disagree on this author though. I recently read Altered States and thought it was one of the most unpleasant and disagreeable books I have ever read.

  5. Now that's prolific! I have never really inteded to read any Brookner, but now I will see which of her 24 books I might want to read.

  6. I've never read any Brookner, so I would love to participate. And when you get the button figured out, I'll be happy to spread the word on my blog. Sounds like fun!

  7. I agree, I've been meaning to read Brookner forever! With 24 books I'm sure I can find one to read by July 16! I look forward to discovering her books.

  8. Spot on: "each one is brilliant in its own quiet, often depressing way." I love Brookner.

  9. Nice idea. I've read 3 of her books, Misalliance, Falling Slowly, and Hotel du Lac. I have to try Altered States now after what Steve said above. Fiction never depresses me and someone else's negative opinion always makes me curious. I'll watch for your button and add my two cents worth in July.

  10. What a great idea - I think I've probably read about half of her output so shall have to look out for another. Will you provide us with a list/recommendations at some point?

  11. I've found a copy of Family and Friends on one of my wife's bookcases. I've never read her before so we'll see what we can do. July's a good while off so I don't see any problem.

  12. A wonderful idea and just the prodding I need to give this author a try.

  13. I read Hotel du lac all those years ago, am keen to join in and will take a look at her list and pick one at random. Excellent idea.
    thanks for sharing

  14. Count me in. I've wanted to read more Brookner since Hotel du Lac

  15. I am one of those very people who have meant to read Anita Brookner for ages, and have yet to do so, so I'm excited about this! I have Hotel du Lac & Family and Friends on my shelves, so will pick one or both of those.

    Although... that picture of her is frankly terrifying. Please don't use it in the fancy button... (!)


  16. I'd love to join if I get my hands on a book of hers. I've read two before and I sometimes like to go back to that sort of quiet and mundane. Great idea, Thomas!

  17. I will,I will, I will be cohosting, an email is winging its way to you very soon! Been back in hospital hence silence!

  18. Donna: Glad you will join in. I feel like I should re-read HdL as well. It is not my favorite AB and now all these years later I am wondering why I don't like her Booker winner more.

    Susan: I knew there would be plenty of you that just needed a reason to dust off your TBR copies.

    Teresa: I definitely wanted to keep it low-key to entice those who might not be ready for full blown Brookner mania.

    Steve: I am not at all surprised. My first Brookner made me feel the same way. But I continued to be drawn to her writing and now I relish her depressing unpleasantness.

    Mother: Good! I hope you give her a try.

    Nadia: The button is ready...

    Karen: And they tend to be quite easy to find in used stores and in remainder bins.

    Skiourophile: I am glad to hear it. I hope you join in.

    Sandra: So glad you will join us. Especially if you take on Altered States.

    Verity: I will produce a list, but I am not sure I can offer recommendations.

    Jim: So many readers have Brookner lurking somewhere in their houses.

    Darlene: Excellent. It is cosy reading of a different sort--not many smiles.

    Martine: A random pick will definitely suffice for this event.

    Vintage: Good, good, good. Exciting to see all the interest.

    Simon T: I am very interested to see what you have to say about AB. I took your advice on the button.

    Claire: I think they are pretty easy to find.

    Simon S: Yay! I am glad you are going to co-host. Although I am not sure if Brookner is good hospital reading. Might be interesting to get your perspective on that.

  19. I just finished "Hotel du Lac" a couple of weeks ago based on the positive review and comments on the Guardian's Booker blog. I liked it very much and would definitely like to read more by Brookner

  20. Ruthiella: This will be a great chance to read your next Brookner.

  21. Came back to get Steve's link but I'm laughing so hard at what Simon said about Brookner's photo that I can't type. She does seem a little stern but she could be my mother or an aunt (including the cigarette) so she doesn't seem scary to me one bit. lol
    But I have to tell you that I have acquired a copy and gobbled up Altered States last night and today, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Sexual obsession is not my cup of tea but she did such good job-and with a male protagonist too. I must find out what Steve found so disturbing.
    And I suspect I will be reading more of hers very soon.

  22. @Sandra. Which link were you coming back for? As to what I didn't like, I'll just copy the notes that I put in my book reading spreadsheet. Clearly, this is a matter of personal antipathy, like a distaste for, say, sweetbreads, but here goes: "Utterly unpleasant tale of Alan Sherwood, and his iil-advised affair. Unconvincingly told in male first person. Unlikeable characters acting improbably. Psychological common-places masquerading as profundities." I also really disliked the prose. Thomas will vouch, I think, that I have pretty good taste in lit, (we're old friends), so forgive me this blind spot.

  23. Sandra: She certainly look formidable in the picture. I didn't want anyone to get the wrong idea.

    Steve: I am beginning to think I can't vouch for your taste! :) You just made me use an exclamation point. I will forgive you your blindspot. Just be careful the cardigan mafia doesn't come after you.

  24. Oh thanks for celebrating Anita Brookner’s 83rd Birthday. I am also eager to post the review on her novel. I already have read all the 24 novels and find quite interesting and greatly crafted. Definitely I will do it and pleased to find that the Brookner fans all over the world. I am from India.

  25. What a terrific idea! The novels of Anita Brookner are like a well-kept secret. After reading them you'll wonder why you haven't been reading her for years. My personal favourite is Look At Me, and I recommend that if anyone's looking for somewhere to start.


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