Sunday, March 09, 2008

McCrum Muses on the Booker

Back to books then after that brief elephantine interval.

Robert McCrum in the Observer, in the wake of the upcoming Best of Booker contest, assesses the impact of the Booker Prize on what we read.

It's a great thing, he says for promoting global readership and creating a conversation :
... about what we look for in new fiction and what we think its purposes might be ...
and it's thrown up some very exciting winners. (He mentions Rushdie, Naipaul and Coetzee.)

Though on the downside (and with this I wholeheartedly agree) :
The bizarre exclusion of American writers ... restricts the significance of the prize.
While this bit will have my buddy KayKay screaming with that's-exactly-what-I-keep sayings :
The judges we spoke to were discreet about the secrets of the committee room. Privately, some have spoken with dismay of the way in which the Booker jackpot ... has sponsored a new genre, the 'Booker novel'. Typically, this is a book without discernible narrative purpose, scarcely a single credible or memorable character and prose that should be nailed to the door of the Guildhall as a timely caution against the perils of creative-writing groups.
Oh dear, Kaykay, I carry your caustic voice around in my head at all times and it's changing the way I see novels. Aren't book clubs dangerous?

1 comment:

KayKay said...

HaHa! Never realised my "caustic" voice" was so corrosive, having burnt and eaten it's way into your mind:-)

Yes, yes, loved that bit about the "Booker Novel" blueprint.

Yes, why not open the Booker to American writers? Seems the Yanks can't get a foot inside this door, but a savage skewering of their culture can net a non-American the prize (Vernon God Little).