Saturday, September 08, 2007

Booker and Bibliosphere

Well, by now the Booker news isn't news anymore. (Thanks so much to the friend who SMSed me the results as soon as they came out, while I was in deepest darkest Pahang!)

None of the first time novelists on the longlist made it through to the shortlist, and that includes our Mr.Tan.

Am very sad, very disappointed ... the novel certainly would not have been out of place on the shortlist ... but making it to the longlist in the first place was such an amazing achievement and has undoubtedly put him on the literary map and won him an international readership.

Am also sad that Peter Ho Davies The Welsh Girl wasn't chosen, as it is another novel which wouldn't have been out of place on the shortlist.

If it's any consolation, I can't help feeling that there must be an awful lost of pressure attached to being on the shortlist, with suddenly every book lover across the bibliosphere (nice word, just made it up!) having strong opinions (informed or not!) on your work.

Guardian readers have their say on the shortlist on the blog, and there's oodles more opinion from ordinary readers on the Booker website. And this is one of the nicest things about the Booker, there's a whole lot of people talking about the same titles and debating them up and down.

Anyway, here's the final six who made the cut, with appetite-whetting judges comments:

Nicola Barker - Darkmans
... an ambitious and energetic contemporary ghost story with a vibrant cast of characters, set in modern day Ashford.
Anne Enright - Gathering
... a very accomplished and dramatic novel of family relationships and personal breakdown in Ireland and England.
Mohsin Hamid - The Reluctant Fundamentalist
... this is a subtle and thoughtful examination of the raw meat of Anglo-Saxon capitalism, and one man’s personal response to working within it.
Lloyd Jones - Mister Pip
Mr Pip is well-rooted in dramatic and frightening events in Papua New Guinea, with vivid characters and a fascinating literary frame of reference.
Ian McEwan - On Chesil Beach
... a tight and beautifully written narrative which sustains high emotional tension throughout.
Indra Sinha - Animal’s People
Indra Sinha is an engaged campaigning novelist. The book clearly draws from real life events in Bhopal, but is a sustained imaginative creation in its own right, with intriguing parallel use of new media.
A longer discussion of each title can be found here. (Or if you prefer, John Crace's very funny Digested Reads!)

McEwan is apparently still the favourite, and I feel ambivalent about that. Saturday which didn't make the shortlist last year is undoubtedly the more complex, substantial work, and I'm sure posterity will judge it as the more important. And while On Chesil Beach is an excellent novella, it feels more like a lengthened short story rather than a short novel. It wouldn't have made my cut and I shall be rather disappointed if it wins.

I'm keeping mum on the rest till I've read them, except to say that I'm really glad Indra Sinha's Animal's People, which I'm reading at the moment, is there.

Back then to the Bookerthon! I now need only copies of Mr. Pip and Darkmans, which hadn't arrived in the bookshops here last time I checked.


Glenda Larke said...

Nice to see a fantasy genre novel up there in the ghost story...

Anonymous said...

I feel your disappointment, too, Sharon. But I'm looking forward to hearing your takes on these novels.

Glenda, if you're talking about Darkmans, it's definitely not a fantasy genre novel, or not according to the standard definition of "genre fiction." It's dense and cerebral, very literary -- and in fact only literary fiction (for whatever that's worth) is eligible for the Booker prize. I will add very hastily, before anyone jumps down my throat, that I'm just pointing out an objective fact -- my intention is not to pass judgment on genre or fantasy fiction, some of which is fabulous.


bibliobibuli said...

but then literary fiction sometimes can be genre fiction too ... "the gift of rain" is literary novel and historical romance and thriller!!!

actually blogged about this and developed an article for the now defunct "chrome" magazine about it

Madcap Machinist said...

oodles noodles! (sp.)

bibliobibuli said...

oh yeah.