Man Book Book Prize is awarded for the best original novel, written in English and published in the United Kingdom. The first book to ever receive the award was in 1969, and was titled, ‘Something To Answer For’ by P H Newby.
Townrow is working as a Trust Fund dispenser in London, when he receives a letter from Mrs Khoury in Cairo. Mrs Khoury’s husband, Eli, was a friend of Townrow’s and the letter he received stated that, Eli had been murdered and to come at once. Although, Townrow has his reservations about going, the fact that his travel had been paid for, was first class and his life was a little boring he decided to go.
Leaving his boring life in London, he arrives in Cairo, where he had previously served as a soldier. Townrow meets up with a long forgotten friend, who owns a local bar. They both get very drunk, however Townrow wakes up the following morning, naked, battered and bleeding on a local beach. His attempts at trying to flag someone down to help him ends up with him being picked up by the local Police and taken to station. Eventually he meets up with Mrs Khoury, who takes care of him until he is well.
However, from then on the story becomes crazily confused, leaving the reader wondering if Townrow is crazy, if the author is crazy or if indeed, you, the reader, are going crazy. It never becomes clear if Townrow is in a delirious state throughout the whole book, if he is dreaming or if in fact everything in the book really happens to him, but it is enough to say that the story is little bit bizarre. However, it is well written and that made me continue to read to the end, in the hope that by the end of the book everything would be explained, but it isn’t, not really!
It was given the Man Booker Prize in 1969 and P H Newby won £5,000. Is it an original? Well, it certainly is that! Odd, I would call it, definitely odd!
2 out of 5