On Second Thought: Avoiding the Booker Bookie

on Wednesday, September 15, 2010
David Mitchell must be swimming laps in a pool of tears right now. Yes, much to the dismay of his legions of fans (and, I dare say a fair few punters), he was omitted from the Booker Prize shortlist and so will have to line up again next time for his little slice of literary immortality. Turns out the safe money was not on him. When the list was announced a couple of weeks ago, the litosphere went nuts. Meanwhile, I was chilling out in my secret cave, trying to be zen with bookish news, resisting the compulsion to add my two cents. I'm usually the king of knee-jerk reactions but I'm glad I held back this time. It's given me a chance to think about the shortlist - to not sound like the sort of idiot who would rush to his local bookie and place $200 on Mister Pip to win in 2007. Or, practically hand the award to David Mitchell the second his new book is published. Ahem... Anyway, blog confessional therapy aside, I have to say it's a pretty good list. The books this year are, well, readable. It has been a strong year for literature and even though I might not agree with all the inclusions, I'm happy to see compelling literary fiction in such healthy form. Thus far I have only read Damon Galgut's In a Strange Room, and am three quarters of the way through Emma Donoghue's Room. The other four are on my nightstand, giving the rest of my September a bit of purpose. Seeing as I read the entire shortlist every year, I feel I ought to thank the judges. There are no overly long dirges. Galgut aside, they are novels in the traditional sense (yep, even Tom McCarthy). Slice my thumb with a pice of paper, there's even some comedy to be found here (and I'm back to harbouring a not-so-secret wish that Howard Jacobson wins). Peter Carey can go juggle his two previous Booker Prizes as far as I'm concerned because, good a writer as he may be, he does not deserve a third before the likes of Rushdie or Coetzee. C'mon folks - hand it over to Jacobson or Andrea Levy already and stop my kvetching!


Post a Comment