Man Booker Prize: It's Barry Unsworth for me
Thursday 21 February 2008
Mirror, mirror on the wall, which is the fairest Booker book of all? Trying to judge literary excellence by committee means that the prize has sometimes fallen victim to compromise voting, tokenism, or the suspicion that a book suitsthe prize rather thandeserves it. It's hard to claim that the 41 prize-winning novels in the Booker's history represent the flower of English literature between 1969 and 2007.
What will the ultimate Booker book represent under the gaze of eternity? Should Ian McEwan's Amsterdam, perhaps his least interesting book, win it, or Graham Swift's Last Orders, when their much better (and shortlisted) works, Atonement and Waterland, failed to win?
And will the vote in July reveal a true literary masterpiece, or just the prize-winner that most appealed to public taste? If so, then Roddy Doyle's Dublin comedy Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha should be in with a shout, as should Yann Martel's unclassifiable Life of Pi.
Midnight's Children, chosen as "the Booker of Bookers" in 1993, on the prize's 25th anniversary, has historic importance as the first masterpiece of post-colonial literature. Martell and Rush-die are both strongly favoured by the bookies – 4/1 and 5/1 respectively – as are Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient, The Famished Road by Ben Okri – awarded, the judges hinted, as a tribute to the literature of emerging nations – and Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things.
If there were any justice, the overall prize should go to Barry Unsworth's awe-inspiring 1992 joint winner, Sacred Hunger. If I were a betting man, I'd choose Martell, Rushdie, Roy, JM Coetzee's Disgrace, Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day and Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty to make the final six.
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?
- 2 Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
- 3 Friends 20th anniversary: The highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
- 4 The response to my Pizza Express review has been overwhelming, and taught me a lot about journalism
- 5 Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned into a PR disaster
Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams cast in Channel 4 drama about cyber bullying
Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea's 'Booty' music video is just a load of butts
Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written
Friends 20th anniversary: The highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes