Saturday, September 15, 2007

The-Didn't-Make-It But-Excellent Titles

The trouble with major literary awards is that while attention is drawn to some excellent books, other works that don't make the lists can slip below reader's radar ... despite being equally good.

Author Giles Foden, one of this year's Booker judges looks at some of the excellent books that didn't make the longlist for one reason or another and which really could have. There are some very good recommendations here, and I've stuck in Amazon links so you can check the titles out:
Other novels I admired include Trezza Azzopardi's Winterton Blue, Ben Markovits's Imposture and (a particular favourite) John Burnside's The Devil's Footprints. And what about assured outings by authors any writer in Britain would be proud to count among his peers: Adam Thorpe, Robert Edric, Jonathan Coe and Justin Cartwright? Then there were the books to be read for pleasure: Peter Behrens's The Law of Dreams and Sujit Saraf's The Peacock Throne. The brightest show of future talent was by Tom McCarthy (Men in Space).

But they were all out, along with the big guns, Michael Ondaatje, JM Coetzee and Pat Barker. Ondaatje's Divisadero was brilliant in parts. My personal view of Coetzee's Diary of a Bad Year is that it's a piece of radical literary theory offered as a (no doubt well-deserved) subversion of the whole commercial and promotional mechanism whereby books are distributed. But theory is not fiction. As for Barker's Life Class, I wish I'd been more persuasive about that.


Anonymous said...

The trouble with literary awards is they're run by a bunch of old fogeys who generally vote for the same kinds of books.

When's the last time you heard of a fantasy book winning a major award ?

bibliobibuli said...

this year's booker list didn't feature established names lah (apart from mcewan) - where you been hiding?

and as preeta said the other day, this is an award for literary fiction (though of course there is nothing to say that books can't cross genre)