Friday, August 27, 2010

Book Club: The Glass Room by Simon Mawer

Our latest bookclub instalment is The Glass Room by Simon Mawer. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for 2009, JGE chose the book this term and after a long wait for the Book Depository to ship the order out, I believe everyone has a copy now and is making progress. I was fortunate enough to get my copy before the backlog slowed down the shipment so I have finished it and am waiting with baited breath to get talking about this novel.

While I think there are many creditable aspects to the novel, such as the evocative imagery of modern architecture, the historical perspective of a Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia and an intriguing cultural set who appear almost impenetrable. Sadly, I feel that Mawer overwrites and relies too heavily on repeated images that, for my likeing, interfere with the organic presence of the building. It is afterall, a story that revolves around a minimalist building. One that came about in a time when Czechoslovakia needed vision and an eye to the future.

In some ways it is not unlike Tim Winton's beautiful Cloudstreet, in that the house shapes and is shaped by those vastly different occupants who not only share an address but also a sense of hope and promise. However, I feel Mawer falls short of Winton's mark due to some fairly superficial characterisation and predictable outcomes.

I look forward to hearing what the rest of the group has to say.