Boyd Tonkin: Dust off these books and find imperishable gold
Monday 01 February 2010
To find that a shift in the rules of submission excluded a whole year of fiction from Booker eligibility is like the discovery, in some tale of the uncanny, of a secret room in a Gothic mansion. As the heavy door swings open with an ominous creak, what can lie inside? Hidden treasures, ghastly remains – or just a pile of dusty, dated bric-a-brac? In the event, the long-list of 22 titles from 1970 devised by Peter Straus and the Man Booker team contains much more imperishable gold than quaint period dross. The wisdom of hindsight does play a part in the range and robustness of this list. It stretches from high-carat modern classics (Patrick White's The Vivisector, Muriel Spark's The Driver's Seat, Shiva Naipaul's Fireflies, J G Farrell's Troubles), through youthful works by now celebrated names, to a formidable hand of top-flight historical novels. In scope and style it runs all the way from a late work by a literary child of the Thirties, HE Bates (creator of much else besides Pop Larkin and his tribe), to rebel playwright Joe Orton's foray into fiction.
Almost 40 years later, several authors are still vigorous and visible on the literary and wider cultural stage: Melvyn Bragg, of course, but also David Lodge, Elaine Feinstein (who had a review in The Independent last Friday), Francis King, Reg Hill, Susan Hill, Nina Bawden and Ruth Rendell.
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 AirAsia flight QZ8501 missing: Plane carrying 162 passengers from Indonesia to Singapore disappears over Java Sea
- 5 Naomi Wolf reacts to Isis 'conspiracy theories' critism after she questions whether beheading videos are real
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
The golden age of TV comedy is here
The Boy in the Dress, TV review: David Walliams' Boxing Day treat is a celebration of being different
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
From Marvel to Star Wars: The rise of cinema’s shared universes
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times