Sunday, August 1, 2010

Booker longlist

No Amis. No Rushdie. No McEwen. Hurray!

The Booker Prize longlist was published last week and, although I haven't really been interested in it as prize since I stopped working in the bookshop (circa 1996), I had to take a look anyway. Just so that I could be mildly outraged by the judges narrow view of what constitutes literature and chuckle condescendingly at their predictable choices.

The last Booker winner I read was Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty in 2004 and I didn't rate that much. Life of Pi in 2002 was the last one that I actually enjoyed and before that it was Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha in 1993.

So, this year's list brought on an attack of slight incredulity including as it does two books I have already read that are fantastic (The Slap and The Stars in the Bright Sky), another that I can guarantee will be excellent (and is already on my to-read pile next to the bed – The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet) and another five which I quite fancy (C, February, In a Strange Room, Room and The Betrayal).

My take on The Slap is here and I will be banging on about The Stars in the Bright Sky at some point in the near-future. The bookies reckon Parrot and Olivier in America or The Long Song are in line for the fifty grand, but that only shows what turnips they are. My pick would have to be David Mitchell for The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet because lots of people reckon he should have won in 2004 for Cloud Atlas and although the judges say they 'put aside literary reputations and judge the novels on their individual merits' it is strange how often an author's past near misses help a book's chances.* And if I was a betting man I would put some money on Christos Tsiolkas for The Slap. I just have a funny feeling that it might be his year ...

*The fact that it is historical fiction won't hurt either.

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