Bridesmaid Revisited

on Saturday, March 12, 2011
So the folk over at Man Booker land have decided to run a poll on which Beryl Bainbridge book ought to win an honorary Booker Prize. The grand dame was nominated five times but failed to ever win the blooming thing, giving her the rather cringeworthy reputation as the perennial Booker Bridesmaid. 'Tis a pitiable tale. In 1973 she lost out to J. G. Farrell. In 1974 the cake was shared by Nadine Gordimer and Stanley Middleton, with Ms. Bainbridge left to nibble at the crumbs. It took another 15 years before she made her next appearance on the shortlist, only to lose again, this time to A. S. Byatt. Never one to be discouraged she was back in 1996. Yep, you guessed it... K.O.'d by Graham Swift. Master Georgie turned out to be her final Booker appearance in 1998 and, to be honest, she probably should have won. Given that the prize was doled out in consolation to Ian McEwan, who failed to win it the previous year for the very deserving Enduring Love, it beggars belief that any judge hell-bent on licking someone else's wounds would not give it to the poor dame who had missed out four times already. Alas, Amsterdam won the day, probably the least deserving of all six nominees. Bainbridge's final novel, According to Queenie, didn't even make the shortlist and she dropped off the perch in 2010.

Well, thank the book gods for good ol' fashioned guilt. In a genial pat on the back that some might see as more of a patronising slap in the face, team Booker want decaying Beryl to have the last laugh from beyond the grave. They are calling on us, Bainbridge's adoring reading public, to pick which of her wonderful books we believe ought to be handed the 'Best of Beryl" Booker (personally, I suspect they just fancied the alliteration). Needless to say, the winner will be bestowed the third lest meaningful Booker after The Man Booker International Prize and the Lost Booker Prize. At least Bainbridge can't possible lose this one. Results will be conveyed via Oija Board, crop circle or black forest nude communion on April 19. Head over to to register your vote.


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