I am not very alert when it comes to keeping up with the various book prizes. Being a seller of secondhand books means that books of the moment can often pass me by until they becomes books of the decade, or the century, or the previous century... I have nothing but envy for the way some bloggers, especially Dovegreyreader, tackle reading along with the judges. For me reading has to jump about a bit. If I read a few modern literary novels then I want something Victorian, or a biography, or a decent piece of genre fiction (especially crime), I can't tackle this year's newest titles one after the other, it is like eating the same course over and over again.
Despite all of the above book prizes do impinge upon a bookseller's life, if not always at the same time as the prize is awarded. Many people collect Bookers for example, so I am occasionally asked to find a hardback of a missing volume. So for me, prizes are there but always in retrospect. The Best of the Bookers is therefore exactly my thing. It was drawn to my attention by a post by C. B. James and it certainly takes the long view. Which is the best Booker from the last 40 years? You can pop over and vote.
The short list:
- Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children
- Nadine Gordimer’s The Conservationist
- J G Farrell’s The Siege of Krishnapur
- JM Coetzee’s Disgrace
- Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda
- Pat Barker’s The Ghost Road
I have read three of the above, and of those my personal favourite is Oscar and Lucinda, but I can see Midnight's Children winning. It is a wonderful novel.