Monday, October 10, 2005

Banville wins the Booker Prize

This is very cool. I was rooting for Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, which I adored (and in my oft-stated and dogmatic personal opinion, Ishiguro is probably the best novelist writing in English today), but Banville is a great writer too. Haven't read this one, but I especially liked his recent thoughtfully negative review in the NYRB of Ian McEwan's latest; my favorite novel of his is the altogether excellent The Untouchable, I've read three or four others that I'm not so crazy about but there is no doubt that Banville is a superb stylist with an interesting and distinctly intellectual sensibility which I approve of without necessarily always enjoying. It was a good short-list, too.

I am determined next year to do a Booker long-list stunt-blogging thing (someone did that this year and I was consumed with envy, I can't seem to find the link though). It would take someone helping me get all the books, it would cost a fortune to buy them esp. since a number are either published only in England or else not yet published, but if I didn't have to do all the footwork obtaining them I would definitely be up for reading everything on the longlist between the first announcement and the shortlist one. You know, you could read a few things in advance on spec, that sort of thing (probably about half the list can be predicted in advance, most years). It is one of my not-so-secret ambitions to be a Booker Prize judge one day, wouldn't it be fun? (Of course I would also like to write a novel that would make it onto at least the longlist, but that seems a more vainglorious ambition. Both are probably equally unlikely.)


  1. John Banville wrote the introduction to the NYRBC edition of Hugo von Hofmannsthal's _The Lord Chandos Letter_. Before suggesting it the NYRBC editors, he used parts of the text in his novella _The Newton Letter_. The Lord Chandos Letter, odd text that it is, has some really interesting things to say about Francis Bacon's legacy in the eighteenth century. I'm just beginning to tease them out.

    Banville's reviews for NYRB are always fantastic. I thought his review of Hilary Mantel's new book was excellent.


  2. Not to be a killjoy, but don't you have to be a citizen of the Commonwealth to qualify for the Booker?


  3. Yes, you do, but I was born in London and have British citizenship...

  4. glad to see some positive comments on John Banville.....;-)
    i just discovered your blog and i will be back.