There are lots of literary highlights throughout the year, of course, but the Booker prize always stands out. Ask any British/Commonwealth novelist (it’s open to American fiction as well now…but we won’t go in to the rights and wrongs of that here) which book prize they want to win above all others and they’d say it’s this one; and not just because of the cash prize that awaits the winner either! Even if you don’t win, making the shortlist is a guarantee of greater exposure and increased novel sales, as love or hate your book, people are guaranteed to talk about it. But to be considered for the prize also does wonders for your reputation in the literary world.
The Booker stands tall above all other book awards because of its long and distinguished history. The judging panel is always made up of eminent names from the world of arts and culture, and for your book to get the seal of approval from them indicates that you have written a novel of exceptional quality: one that is both cerebral (aka Literary with a capital l) and tells a cracking story.
Yesterday’s Lit Soc gathered to discuss this year’s shortlist with its customary spread of books and tasty treats:
As most of us had not read any of the current shortlist, we conducted a little experiment first devised by the author John Sutherland. It basically involves turning to page 69 of the book, and if you find you enjoy it, then it’s probably the book for you. Could be something you might want to try yourself next time you’re in the library, or in a bookshop.
Anyway, this resulted in some rather odd coincidences. For instance, Mr Sanders, randomly picked up Richard Flanagan’s The Random Road to the Deep North, a novel set in a Japanese Prisoner of War camp. His grandfather also spent time as a prisoner of war in a Japanese camp. Spooky. The ‘page 69’ experiment was most interesting, as several of the books on the shortlist certainly hooked us in, whilst one or two others, alas, did not.
The session ended with us placing our bets on who we thought would win, with We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler being the most popular choice. With less than three weeks to go until the winner is revealed, who do you think will win?