Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The build-up to the Booker Prize

has completely passed me by this year (a sign that last September was insufficiently full of other distractions, I think), but Kiran Desai has won this year's prize for The Inheritance of Loss. Earlier today I was reading John Crace's digested shortlist and having two contradictory thoughts: (a) while I find his "digested in 400 words" features almost invariably very funny, there's something dispiriting about seeing a whole heap of them all together like that--not good for the soul; (b) I am not having much of a desire to read any of the finalists. I seem to be off certain kinds of literary fiction recently--it's partly because I've had so little time for reading, but I find that what I've got I want either for nonfiction or for my particularly favorite kind of literary stuff (nb Richard Powers counts) or else, you know (but I don't seem to have had enough of these around recently), trashy novels about vampires. The Booker Prize needs more vampires!


  1. I really enjoyed reading your blog and I bookmarked it! by the way if you are looking for printer cartridge information check out my website!

  2. See, I find them (the Digested Reads) quite hilarious, perhaps because you sense the bitterness but also the little idiosyncrasies native to every writer. A sentence like the one below can't help but make me laugh.

    "The description of the mist moving like a water creature across the great flanks of the Himalayas possessed of ocean shadows and depths told Sai that she had inadvertently found her way into a lyrical evocation of post- colonial multiculturalism."

  3. Well, Edward St Aubyn was a finalist and he's definitely worth reading. Although it's a pity that--rather typically for the Booker--he was nominated for his second-worst book. (His worst, hands down, is the breathtakingly pretentious Clue to the Exit.)

    Still, his nominated book was the fourth volume of an otherwise-complete and definitely-worth-reading trilogy. So even if it's something of a melancholy slackening from the writing that made that trilogy so good, but at least the nomination might encourage people to read the original books (which few people did)....to some extent, his nomination was the Quality Lit equivalent of nominating Douglas Adams for a prize for "So Long and Thanks For All The Fish".

    But even if you've lost your faith in literary fiction, what he does is something different, so it's worth reading.. He's an aristocrat who dabbles in the thing---and so it would defeat his purpose to be too good at being literary. (He does try, but invariably fails.)

    And personally, I find that in moods when I've lost my faith in poetry altogether, the Earl of Rochester remains utterly readable. Same thing with St Aubyn, I reckon.

  4. Printer cartridges apart ;-), there was a time when I always read the Booker after it was announced. It was after Penelope Lively won it that I gave up, I think. If I've read a Booker winner since, it has been serendipity. (eg I love Ian McEwan and always buy him in hardback the instant he is out, an honour I bestow on about 3 authors in total.)