And the Winner is:
Blocked at home thanks to the COVID, I thought: make this an opportunity .
So I’ve read the six shortlisted novels, written articles and debated extensively with myself and here are the conclusions.
The two South American books, very different in style, the poetic self discovery of China Iron contrasts with the crude realism of Hurricane Season but they share themes, poverty, cruelty, escapism through alcohol and drugs and the contrast of machism with homosexuality.
Tyll shares with China Iron taking their sources, the characters of Tyll and China from historical sources and using their stories to tell of the histories of Europe and Argentina.
The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree, through a story told, steeped in magic and ghosts , the influence of the Zoastrians, tells us the recent history of Iran and the terrible impact of the revolution and its oppressive regime on the people.
The memory police, is a stripped back yet allegorical story of a future and its past, about an oppressive regime and the faint hope that remains in the people.
And finally, The Discomfort of evening, a painful and disturbing book about the investigation and non acceptance of death in a young adolescent living in a hard line Reform community.
For the strength and depth of the story, re-visiting La Vuelta de Martin Fierro and the birth of Argentina from a new angle, the cruelty of the Hispanics, the instrumentalisation of the Gouchos and the poetic style, The adventures of China Iron is for me a clear winner.