Thursday, September 15, 2016

Man, that Booker

It is coming around again--that time for the nominations and the final selection of the "best" book for the Man Booker Prize--a nomenclature which I will never get used to because it sounds sexist, even though it is not.  For me it will always be the Booker Prize.

And for me, it will often be a disappointment.  I really cannot fathom how the jury makes its selection.  I think the criteria is so often subjective (as most book reviews are anyway) and therefore those who compose the jury are simply looking at the books from their own perspective and not from the perspective of the potential reader.  Various sources have also hinted at political or political/personal in-fighting which, if true (and will we ever know?), means that the books themselves take second place in the final decision.

Whatever the final verdict is this year, it is highly unlikely that I will read it.  Since its inception in 1969 I have only read a few of the winners, have rarely liked any and have always been confused as to why the book was selected.  The only ones I have enjoyed and which I have felt worthy of the prize are Oscar & Lucinda (1986), Midnight's Children (1981), Possession: A Romance (1990), and The Ghost Road (1995).  Three others marginally fulfilled my criteria: The Line of Beauty (2014), The Sea, The Sea (1978) and The Remains of the Day (1989)  The rest of the winners I never made it to the first page because the subject of the story did not interest me or I never got past the first 50 pages because the style or the theme fell way short of my expectations, e.g: The Finkler Question (2010), The Life of Pi (2012), and especially disliked, Vernon God Little (2003).

So, I will not waste my time and money on this year's winner.  There are other good books out there that don't carry the weight and prestige of the Booker but which are much more worthy of my time.

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