History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (Man Booker Prize long list 2017)


Here’s a hint: do not read this book after Solar Bones or Days Without End. While on any given day it may be considered a fine book, after those two it becomes merely ordinary.

The writing feels jagged, the story cumbersome. I’m frankly not so interested in this young misfit of a girl who lived in a rundown cabin with very weird parents. She babysits Paul, who stuffs an old leather glove with leaves, and befriends his mother, Patra, who is only 26. Her full name is Cleopatra, and she was once called Cleo, but that would never work with her 37 year old husband named Leo.

And then there’s Lily, a girl from their school who became involved with their teacher, Mr. Grierson, who was discovered to be a pedophile when dogs searched his old apartment in California, from which he fled to teach in Minnesota.

So there is a certain tension within the first 100 pages as all this is set up, but the point for me now is, “Who cares?” I’m eager to reach the end so that I can move on to another book from the Man Booker long list. Autumn, by Ali Smith, to be exact.


Addendum: I have just finished the book, a day after I published this post, and my feelings about it have not changed. I’m baffled as to how it managed to land on the Man Booker long list, curious as to what the judges saw in it that completely eluded me.