It’s hard to disagree with the sentiment here that the Booker should be celebrated, but who actually gives much of a crap about the books that get shortlisted for it? I know I don’t have the most high-brow tastes in fiction so maybe it’s just be, but it’s likely I’ll only be vaguely interested in one of the six on any given short-list, and it’s rarely the one that wins.
Am thinking for the Booker to be more celebrated it needs to be more, well, relevant. We’ve such a long history of crowing literary snobs in this country (the sort who hate genre fiction and refuse to call it literature) that to win accolades within it you have to fit a fairly specific set of criteria to be ‘their’ sort of book. It’ll be interesting to see how Wolf Hall does since it’s the favourite, but it isn’t her usual sort of Booker style novel. For a start it’s actually one I’d want to read… So, it might be that it’ll win, be the greatest novel in history and I’ll be full of shit, yet again!
More seriously, am not saying they should be considering my sort of novel, but when it’s all run by people who are all terrified of not conforming to the prevailing, reactionary wisdom of literary society. It’s almost as though they’ve never really greww out of the school-yard mentality where the bookish types are terrified to show anything that the other kids might mock them for. One of the many things I like about my office is that one of my bosses is as highly respected a literary editor as anyone in the country, but he’s one of the VERY few who reads speculative fiction as well as being the most ferociously well-read person I know. He doesn’t really have criteria beyond the book being one he likes, buys mainstream thrillers in the Dan Brown vein, is Neal Stephenson’s editor and edited the last Booker winner. That might not work with the corporate culture of today’s publishing, but I wish there were more of ’em out there!