The Best Of The Booker – Shortlist
Following on from the 25th Anniversary ‘Booker Of Bookers’ in 1993, comes the 40th Anniversary ‘Best Of The Booker’, in which a panel of judges have saved the public the bother of whittling down all forty-one eligible titles to a more manageable six. Or, to put it another way, ensured that Life Of Pi, which would likely top a proper public vote, can’t win.
The shortlist, then, is:
- The Ghost Road, Pat Barker (1995)
- Oscar And Lucinda, Peter Carey (1988)
- Disgrace, J.M. Coetzee (1999)
- The Siege Of Krishnapur, J.G. Farrell (1973)
- The Conservationist, Nadine Gordimer (1974)
- Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie (1981)
The panel of judges were the biographer, novelist and critic Victoria Glendinning, (chair); writer and broadcaster Mariella Frostrup; and John Mullan, Professor of English at University College, London.
In addition, Glendinning said:
‘It was a great experience, revisiting all the Booker and Man Booker Prize winners, and very tough arriving at the shortlist – but we really feel that the six novels we picked represent the best fiction-writing of the past forty years and that each one of them will stand the test of time. As to which of the six is the most important, and the most enjoyable, the Best of Booker – that is up to the readers to decide.’
While I’ve only read one of the titles listed, the list seems fair by all accounts, as all of the titles share a certain reknown that many other Booker winners don’t (Paul Scott’s Staying On anyone?) but I’m saddened to see that Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains Of The Day didn’t make the final cut. Perhaps this shows what we’ve known all along regarding Booker judging panels in that they are out of touch with the readers. But we all know that the most popular book isn’t always the best book otherwise Harry Potter books would have been regular candidates for the regular Booker. So public be damned. Although it will no doubt come to pass that Midnight’s Children, as it was in 1993, will continue to reign as the Best of the Booker.
One other thing: it is strange to see Nadine Gordimer’s The Conservationist listed as potentially the Best of the Booker since it couldn’t hold its own against Stanley Middleton’s Holiday, back in 1974, when both books scooped the prize. Middleton, where are you now?
May 12, 2008