Booker's Bucket of Blah: The Worst Shortlist In Living Memory

on Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Well, the short list for the Man Booker Prize is out and I'm glad to say that I've read them all. Yes! I've escaped having to read Alan Hollinghurst again. Plus I get an entire month of reading for pleasure. All in all a happy ending. Except for the list. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Just to recap, the nominated titles are:

The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes
Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt
Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan
Pigeon English by Steven Kelman
Snowdrops by A. D. Miller

Yawn. No... Here comes the righteous anger! What on Earth were they thinking?

This has to be the most disappointing list ever. Sure, I already waxed lyrical about the unremarkable long list a month ago but this is ridiculous! J'Accuse Stella Rimington. Two substandard works pop up because they are essentially spy novels? Quelle suprise!?! Heck, there were only a few deserving novels on the long list (though, to be fair, I didn't read three of the contenders) and only one of those (Barnes) has landed up in the final running. Even worse, the two least deserving novels made it - so we might end up with the awful Pigeon English or the even worse Snowdrops taking it out. And before you accuse me of being a lit snob or try to defend the list as being courageously eclectic, I wasn't even gunning for the big names. I wanted Yvette Edwards to win. A Cupboard Full of Coats was one of the most thought-proking, moving works of fiction I've read in a long time. It has continued to haunt me since the moment I put it down.

For what it's worth I now hope Barnes wins. He has long deserved the prize and The Sense Of An Ending is a weighty addition to his body of work, even if it is only one hundred and sixty pages long. I also wouldn't be upset if Patrick De Witt won - there's something to be said for an enjoyable picaresque rescuing the Booker from its own arsehole. Unfortunately I don't expect that either of them will. Methinks this year's prize is reserved for Birch or Kelman. Please let it be Birch. I'd pick another tiger over a flying rat any day!


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