Something to Answer for

Something to Answer for This book is the winner of the inaugural Booker Prize in It was and he was in Port Said About these two facts Townrow was reasonably certain He had been summoned there to Egypt by the wido

  • Title: Something to Answer for
  • Author: P.H. Newby
  • ISBN: 9781898436010
  • Page: 460
  • Format: Paperback
  • This book is the winner of the inaugural Booker Prize in 1969 It was 1956 and he was in Port Said About these two facts Townrow was reasonably certain He had been summoned there, to Egypt, by the widow of his deceased friend, Elie Khoury Since he was found dead in the street, she is convinced he was murdered, but nobody seems to agree with her What of Leah Strauss, thThis book is the winner of the inaugural Booker Prize in 1969 It was 1956 and he was in Port Said About these two facts Townrow was reasonably certain He had been summoned there, to Egypt, by the widow of his deceased friend, Elie Khoury Since he was found dead in the street, she is convinced he was murdered, but nobody seems to agree with her What of Leah Strauss, the mistress And of the invading British paratroops Only an Englishman, surely, would take for granted that the British would have behaved themselves In this weirdly disorienting world, Townrow is forced towards a re examination of the basic rules by which he has been living his life and into a realization that he too may have something to answer for.

    One thought on “Something to Answer for”

    1. There was a time when ‘readability’ was the least important factor which the Booker Prize Jury took into consideration. At least that must’ve been the case back 1969 when they awarded the inaugural Booker to P.H. Newby for his novel ‘Something to Answer For’. Of course back then Booker Prize was some niche award that didn’t even have its ceremony and the winner was informed by post. The jury didn’t have to worry about sparking national debate with their choices. I see that many rev [...]

    2. Townrow saw himself floating in and out of this dream for the rest of his life, and each time there would be a new twist. Next time there would be no nuns and the warship would be American. There would be times when there was a cross on the dead man’s chest and there would be times when there was not. The terrible thing about the form this particular dream took was the longing.Townrow is a snake that eats his own skin to hide the evidence. He would be the nightmare victim in horror films who d [...]

    3. The inaugural Booker Prize winning novel from Newby. Way different than what I was expecting, but in a good way. Steeped in mystery because of the narrator's memory issues; however, the story maintains its appeal and I felt it never got so entirely strange that I couldn't follow the plot line. Rest assured everything is revealed in the end. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Recommended!

    4. A bewildering little book. Is it man's quest for meaning and values in a world that signifies and offers neither? Inscrutable events on an international scale as a background and foil to an individual's essentially senseless, meaningless actions? It's hard to tell. Our main character-cum-third-person-narrator seems to have suffered some severe head-trauma fairly early into the book after a black-out booze binge in an Egyptian dive-bar. After all, what indeed are the past and the future in a narr [...]

    5. This is probably one of the worst books I've ever read. Calling it erratic wouldn't be enough, as the plot is all over the place, with some sort of slipping/skipping timeline that never offers any sort of orientating anchor. None of the characters offer any depth or complexity of personality, and the plot. What can I say about the plot? After 285 pages, I have no clue what the whole point of the book was. I would never have finished this novel if I wasn't planning on reading every winner of the [...]

    6. The winner of the first Booker Prize, this novel takes place during the 1956 Suez Canal crisis and centers on Jack Townrow, a British man who makes his living as a corrupt Fund Distributor. With nothing holding him to home, when he is asked to come to Egypt (called the UAR in the novel though that seems to be chronologically off) by Mrs. Khoury, the widow of a man he met ten years earlier in Cairo, he goes. On the way, during a stopover in Rome, Townrow gets into an argument with two men over Br [...]

    7. Because I seem unable to stop drawing comparisons between the various Bookers that I've read, I figured I'd try to go back and give at least some sort of review. Of course, my memory is like a sieve so I don't really remember anything I read more than two hours ago, which means these reviews should be taken with a grain of salt at least Newby was the first Booker I read after making the decision to go through them all. It was not what I expected; and to be honest I'm not sure anyone could expect [...]

    8. Most people read this book because it was the first winner of the Man Booker prize in 1969 and that is why my book club chose to read it too. Getting your hands on a copy of this out-of-print tome is not easy. You can find it used for ungodly sums of money. I saw it going for between $40 - $50, but save your cash and get it through inter-library loan. Since I had time to kill while I waited (because inter-library loan is not the speediest of demons), I checked out some reviews and basically they [...]

    9. Hmmn. I liked this book and didn't like this book.To explain, this book is about a rather shallow man who goes to Port Said in Egypt just about exactly as the Suez Canal crisis erupts in the 1950's. Interesting, especially for me, as my Dad's family had to flee Egypt leaving lots of their property behind, some of which is still being battled to be reclaimed even still. In this book the fleeing bit is at the end - the background is the few months when Nassar claims the canal before the English wi [...]

    10. Once I've read a book I like to read a few reviews and see how my thoughts stack up against what the general consensus is. There seems to be an overriding opinion that this book is too confusing and the characters aren't likable enough.On the second point, I think Townrow especially is not very likable, but he sets himself up. He's honest all the time that he's not a very nice person, and in that sense you admire his honesty and his sense of self. Once again in terms of the complexity, it's an i [...]

    11. A disturbing, but beautifully written book. The unreliable narrator that tells this story often leaves you confused - about his identity, his motives and the true course of events that revolve around the Suez crisis. The book needs concentration, otherwise the narrative slips away. The reader is taken into a world where reality, history, motives and relationships all bend and distort and the result is a read that has few anchors - just like the narrator's life. An intriguing read.

    12. It is always interesting to read Booker winners but I have rather mixed feelings about this one (the first). At face value it reads like a comic picaresque dream story, a confusing narrative set in Egypt during the Suez crisis, but it addresses wider issues of responsibility, national identity and the end of the British empire.

    13. Disappointing first attempt to conquer the Booker list. This book is like an irritating drunken dream - I have no idea what the point was or why it was written

    14. Эта книга в 1969 году получила самую первую на свете Букеровскую премию. Среди всех лауреатов премии эту разыскать было сложнее всего: её нет в библиотеке, её нет (ну в смысле я не нашла) в электронном виде, и конечно же её не переводили на русский. Задавшись целью, я её всё-таки [...]

    15. THIS IS THE BEST BOOK I HAVE READ IN A LONG TIME, yes I want to shout! If you like great writing read this book, please. The backdrop is the chaos of the 1956 Suez Canal crisis following Egyptian President Nassar's nationalization of the canal. Townrow, the protagonist, a Brit, suffers a blow to the head, resulting in mental chaos which parallels the political situation in Port Said, where the story takes place. Strangely most reviewers extensively recount the "events" set forth in the book. I s [...]

    16. A real mixed bag. At times well written and showing signs of being a good read and then falling apart to become a totally confusing diatribe. It takes place around the period that Egypt took control of the Suez Canal and is, probably, an expose of British conduct in world affairs but I'm not positive that this is the underlying message. The book seemed to weave in and out of reality and was fairly disorienting.

    17. A difficult book to rate. On one hand it's well written and interesting, clearly in the realm of literature, and on the other hand the protagonist is intensely unlikable and the situations he describes painful to read. I couldn't even finish the book, stopping just short of halfway.

    18. Reflections and discussion questions from The Booker Prize Book Club:According to the Dictionary of Literary Biography’s entry on this the first Booker Prize winner, “some found the award to Newby’s novel ironic because the prize was created and given by a company that represented values questioned in the novel… Booker Brothers McConnell, a multinational conglomerate, sold popular fiction as one of its commodities along with rum, sugar, and engineering products.” The company has 51% of [...]

    19. 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 h [...]

    20. I had been trying to purchase a copy of the inaugural Booker Winner for a number of years, with not a lot of success. First editions, mint condition etc. were available for hugely inflated prices and it wasn’t until Faber and Faber recently re-released it in paperback that I was able to obtain a copy.Let’s flashback to 1969 – a cursory glance at the internet will show you it was a time when man first walked on the moon, massive public rallies against the Vietnam War were being held, 300,00 [...]

    21. Britain goes back to Egypt a few years after it had left, gets beaten up, has an identity crisis and drifts off, uncertain of its place in the world.Sorry, sorry. Townrow, the hero, goes back to Egypt etc etc.When this was written the Suez Crisis would have been fresh enough in everybody’s mind for it work as a metaphor for Britain’s search for its new role in a post-war world. All these years later and, for cultural eedjits like me, it has to stand on its own as a novel. Which it does,quite [...]

    22. Britain goes back to Egypt a few years after it had left, gets beaten up, has an identity crisis and drifts off, uncertain of its place in the world.Sorry, sorry. Townrow, the hero, goes back to Egypt etc etc.When this was written the Suez Crisis would have been fresh enough in everybody’s mind for it work as a metaphor for Britain’s search for its new role in a post-war world. All these years later and, for cultural eedjits like me, it has to stand on its own as a novel. Which it does,quite [...]

    23. Something to Answer For is not a particularly complicated novel in terms of plot: Townrow, the protagonist, goes to Egypt at the request of the wife of a friend, who believes that her late husband was murdered. Mostly set in the Egyptian city of Port Said during the Suez Crisis of 1956, it portrays the adventures of Townrow, as he faces up to not only the conflict occurring around him between Egypt and her former colonial rulers, France and Great Britain, but also the conflict within himself bet [...]

    24. I wouldn’t have read this one if it wasn’t for the fact this was the first winner of the Booker Prize. But I’m glad I did – it’s a very worthy novel, and it’s quite fun to trace the evolution of said prize from a relatively obscure way of recognising non-popular novels, to the yardstick it is today.‘Something to Answer For’ is not an easy read – in fact, if I’m any judge, Newby took a resolutely non-popularist approach in terms of form, style and structure. This is the tale o [...]

    25. This is a tough one for sure. I picked it up (actually, Joe gave it to me) because it was the first book ever to win the Booker Prize. I can tell you that not much has changed since 1969 in terms of the prize committee awarding books that are challenging but - generally speaking - pretty rewarding. This one required me to turn to to brush up my knowledge (haha, as if I had any in the first place) of the Suez Canal Crisis of 1956, which the book takes place during. It follows an English (or is i [...]

    26. PH Newby's Something to Answer For is part farce, part spy caper and part magical realism. Together, it makes for a confusing but intriguing novel. The book revolves around Townrow who narrates the story. He is maybe a spy, probably a con man and definitely a man with an interesting past. A decidedly unreliable narrator, Townrow travels to Cairo to "help" a widow manage her fortune and gets caught up in the war there. The novel veers into romance, survivalist fiction and political critique along [...]

    27. The first book to win the Man Booker Prize, but just about everything with this book, from its writing to its characters, was mediocre and/or annoying. Yes, I got the literary "trick" here: an unreliable narrator. Townrow is confused. To make it worse, he was beaten senseless in the beginning of the story and was left with a severe head injury. He doesn't really know who he is, not even whether he's English or Irish. People call him by different names and he's not sure if he knows them or not. E [...]

    28. "Something to Answer For" was the inaugural winner of the Man Booker prize for literature. A story of a middle aged ex-soldier who is in Egypt at the time of the Suez crisis in 1956. It is more of a coming of age, self-realization tale as the protagonist wrestles with his own reality and those of a Jewish-American woman and an elderly widow of an old friend. While the prose is quite good, the story is dated. Perhaps in 1968, the book was innovative and relevant, it does not travel well through t [...]

    29. Whilst the plot appears relatively simple at the outset, it quickly becomes apparent the complications arise because the narrator is confused and unreliable. This could have become tiring but was so beautifully written that I found myself rereading many pages just to enjoy the sentence structures and descriptors a second time. I felt confused much of the time and so, in my opinion, this novel really worked. Beware this is a novel of it's time though and the occasional racist and sexist views are [...]

    30. This book was a really slow start for me. It took me a month to read the first 100 pages. But once I finally got into it, I really enjoyed it. Townrow was a very closed off character, but turned out to be quite sympathetic, if still difficult to figure out. The plot is still pretty confused in my head, and I'm trying to figure out exactly what happened, and, more importantly, in what order. But I generally found it to be an interesting treatise on the nature of memory and identity, and the role [...]

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