East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Monday, October 10, 2005

Banville gets the Booker, pity the book clubs

In recent years the Booker judges have made a habit of assembling a respectable shortlist, and then giving the prize to a sub par nominee. The Blind Assassin was lively but wasn't one of Atwood's five best. True History of the Kelly Gang was ambitious but false. Life of Pi was the worst book on that year's shortlist; magical realism without imagination is deadly. Vernon God Little merely got old fast. Then last year they got it spot on with The Line of Beauty.

This year: another lapse of judgement. I got a quarter of the way through The Sea before quitting. It's a bunch of old tricks: dislikable narrator has lost loved one, boo hoo, with sentences monotonously reminding you how elegant they are. Only explanation: John Sutherland, who made the casting vote, wanted to get back at the Independent's Boyd Tonkin (they've feuded since they judged the 1999 prize, and Tonkin has campaigned against Banville), who's pissed off about it: "Yesterday the Man Booker judges made possibly the worst, certainly the most perverse, and perhaps the most indefensible choice in the 36-year history of the contest."


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