THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

Memoirs of a brilliant barbarian

A surfing memoir already hailed as a classic won the inaugural Prix America on June 26 for the best book published in or about the US.


By AFP

Sunday 16 July 2017, 02:00PM


New Yorker magazine journalist William Finnegan has already won a Pulitzer prize for Barbarian Days, which has garnered the kind of reviews most writers can only dream of.

He said that the book had begun as a hesitant “coming out” on his secret life as a not-so-dumb surfer, forever searching for the perfect wave.

The New York Review of Books called it “an utterly convincing study in the joy of treating seriously an ‘unserious’ subject”.

The judges of the French-based Prix America agreed, declaring that if it had been about “sex or drugs it would be seen as one of the strongest books we have about the effects of desire, the vortex of obsession the difficulty of weaning ourselves off” our addictions.

A review in The New York Times said the book’s “emotional core is Mr Finnegan’s attempt to reckon with what drives him to surf – the same impulse, he realises, that drove him later in life, as a staff writer for The New Yorker, to report from so many war zones, like El Salvador and Sudan. He wants to consider the ‘big psychic hole’ that surfing fills in him, the appeal of a kind of danger that approaches the sublime”.

Finnegan, 65, said that he was “astounded to win with a book (about surfing) with all the big novels around”.

“I am thrilled. I think the judges got the whole ambition of the book and felt it came together.”
Having taken 20 years to write, “to have someone tell you your book is literature and that it reads like fiction is just great”, he added.

EPL Prediction Competition 2018-2019

The prize is awarded by the French literary review, America, which has been set up to reflect the US under Donald Trump.

The author said that part of the book’s popularity may be because his account stops before Trump’s rise to power, which he described as a “catastrophe”.

The judges also praised Finnegan – who covered civil wars in Latin America, Sudan and the Balkans – for his acute understanding of the effect of American foreign policy.

“One of the threads running through the book is an incredible description of the humiliations the US has visited upon those who do not go along with its vision of the world,” they added.

Finnegan travelled the globe as a surf bum before becoming a journalist after writing an account of his time teaching “coloured” children in apartheid South Africa, a job he picked up while surfing on the Cape.

His New Yorker colleague George Packer’s highly-acclaimed The Unwinding, a portrayal of the “coming apart of America’s national fabric”, also made the shortlist.

The other books in contention were Donald Ray Pollock’s novel The Heavenly Table; The Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff; Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson; Writing to Save a Life by John Edgar Wideman; Into the Forest by Jean Hegland – which has been compared to Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale – and Kristopher Jansma’s New York-set We Came to the City.

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Hanoi ‘must end eating of dogs before Formula 1 arrives’

We learnt here that dogs can actively help the mentally handicapped,the lonely and even those with a...(Read More)


Thais arrested for charging ‘access fees’ to Freedom Beach

Typical Thai low life scum, extorting foreigners seems like a national past time, they should be mad...(Read More)


Thais arrested for charging ‘access fees’ to Freedom Beach

Really, so before it was made a protected national forest it was okay to charge "foreigner"...(Read More)


Thais arrested for charging ‘access fees’ to Freedom Beach

Freedom Beach has been a few years ago also under the 'Authorities' magnify glass. For same ...(Read More)


Phuket Immigration to launch ‘Drive Thru’ service

.... Already more than a year you not have to fill out any form for 90 day report. The Immigration ...(Read More)


Phuket Immigration to launch ‘Drive Thru’ service

So will they still be forcing everyone to re-write out the TM-47 form for 90 day reporting? Because ...(Read More)


Phuket Immigration to launch ‘Drive Thru’ service

Stupid idea, just scrap 90reporting and the idiotic address report if you leave the country but then...(Read More)


Phuket Immigration to launch ‘Drive Thru’ service

Another strange private decision by the manager of Phuket Immigration....(Read More)


Phuket Immigration to launch ‘Drive Thru’ service

Progress , eh- who needs it. Clearly not any of the commentators below! Sitting in an air conditione...(Read More)