Moderately interesting poll on Scott Pack's blog – me and my big mouth – to find the best book that was shortlisted, but didn't win the Booker prize. I always find it hard to resist anything in this vein i.e. something that involves lists and books.
Of the ten books chosen by Scott and his illustrious panel I have read four and enjoyed three. Of the ones I enjoyed it was hard to make a choice between three very different novels.
Waterland was the first I read, probably in my early twenties, and I remember thinking that I wouldn't like it (sounded too much like a period novel, which of course it is, but not like that), but found myself loving the story and the writing.
The Butcher Boy came next a few years later when I was working in a bookshop and paid attention to things like the Booker shortlist. It is great, although pretty disturbing, and it isn't surprising that it lost out to The English Patient and Sacred Hunger.
But the book that ended up getting my vote was Cloud Atlas. I suspect this will be a runaway winner – published recently, entertaining and readable but still cool – but in the end I just decided that it was the book that I had enjoyed reading the most.
A prize for anyone who can guess which one of the list I have read, but hated.
And for the sake of debate here is my version of the top ten books shortlisted for the Booker that didn't win:
1 Tibor Fischer – Under the Frog
2 David Mitchell – number9dream
3 Bernard MacLaverty – Grace Notes
4 Peter Carey – Illywhacker
5 David Mitchell – Cloud Atlas
6 JG Ballard – Empire of the Sun
7 Graham Swift – Waterland
8 Patrick McCabe – The Butcher Boy
9 William Boyd – An Ice-cream War
10 David Lodge – Small World
And remember to add your vote before the closing date on July 9.