Friday, September 12, 2008


Nicholas Murray calls it "the war against serious writing" while Lee Rourke sees "a sanitised agenda that force-feeds an eager public the dross we see masquerading as literature these days". Yes, it's Man Booker Prize shortlist time!

Both writers are staggered by judge Louise Doughty's banalities excusing the deeply conservative selection. Her notion of what constitutes "literary skill" further lubricates the Prize's slide into Thumping Good Read territory. There are enough book prizes already rewarding such books. As the most prominant literary prize in the UK, the Booker should draw attention to works that interrupt mere craftsmanship as they seek more than "a good plot" and "finely tuned sentences". Though not a novel (and thereby ineligible), Lee Rourke's own Everyday is an admirable example of a writer going in the opposite direction to the Man Booker.


  1. There's an interesting comment by the Independent's Books Editor, Boyd Tonkin, on how the Booker seems to be failing even on its own terms:

  2. Thanks for that. Can you imagine Kelman receiving the prize from Portillo?!

    The trouble seems to be that the other prizes Tonkin mentions are like Trojan Horses. The public is happy to accept the apparent interchangibility of "prize-winning" and "literary merit" even though these other awards reward middlebrow "3 for 2" stall novels. The Booker should go its own way, though I suppose this will happen only when they employ judges with revolution in their hearts.



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