Well, thank god David Mitchell's Black Swan Green is considered the front runner for this year's Man Booker Prize, because it's the only title on the long list that I've actually read.
Why is it that every year I read these lists and realize I haven't heard of most of the books on them? More to the point, why do I persist in believing myself a well-read person despite this?
Why does the Booker Prize List determine whether or not you are well-read?
It's not so much the Booker list as all the damn lists. And don't get me wrong: I definitely don't feel bad for not having read all of these books, but I feel like a bit of a schmuck for not having HEARD of most of them.
Well, I consider myself to be pretty well-read, and I've read exactly zero of them (Black Swan Green sits unread on my bedside table at this moment). I don't think you should feel down about this at all. Good lord, if I could write about books like you do, I'd be happy, happy woman.
Those lists are marketing for the book industry. You hear about those books after they make the list. If it wasn't for those lists how would you know what was any good?
Did you ever see that movie where the father is a writer and the teenage son knows all about every author, but he hasn't actually read anything? The concluding quip.
My favourite is when you're out of your league completely, maybe the topic is nanotechnology in the medical field and you say "nanotech in medicine. Don't get me started."
You don't ever have to feel ignorant again. "The booker prize list. Don't get me started."
Heh. Are you referring to The Squid and the Whale? Man, I loved that movie.
And just so's you all know, I'm not really that down about my Booker ignorance. I'm more incredulous than anything. Though trophycase's comment reminded me about something I read once, where someone talked about the fact that the Booker's success is due to the fact that it always pisses everyone off. Maybe I need to give out an annual book prize. Sounds like a fun way to bug people...
The only books on the list that I've heard of are Black Swan Green (thanks to your blog) and Peter Carey's Theft, which I saw at the book store recently and was tempted to read until I remembered that Carey also wrote Oscar and Lucinda, which I really disliked. So, I wouldn't take this list too much to heart. However, A Doppelganger 50Booker Prize list would be pretty awesome!
I haven't heard about any of them, which makes me feel like a double-schumck. I read the most out of all of my friends and while they may consider me well read, the fact that I don't even know most of those authors makes me pretty sure they're wrong. Of course, I chalk it all up to not having enough time to devote to the literary world as I would like. Heaven is the day that happens.
While the Booker list is probably about publicity for publishing industries, I do think that the Booker Prize winners and runner ups are almost always good enough to warrant reading. I like them much much much better than the Pulitzer winners, for example, and I've read a lot of both so I feel entitled to this sweeping judgement. The only Bookers that I DON'T like are Vernon God Little, that newest Kazuo Ishiguro that everyone is wild about, Shame (my least favourite Rushdie), and all of the Margaret Atwoods because I do not like anything by her except for that very short little poem about fishhooks.
So I actually am quite miffed that I have not read or even heard of any of the ones on this year's list. Though I will definitely pick up Black Swan Green after reading Doppelganger's review -- I, too, love books about kids.
I read somewhere that they are considering Mitchell for BSG not because it's so very very good but because he didn't get it for Cloud Atlas (which was BRILLIANT). Alan Hollinghurts's godawful Line of Beauty won that year, for God knows what reason. Either book, Mitchell's a terrific writer.
It was an absolute travesty that Mitchell didn't win for Cloud Atlas. It is absolutely brilliant -- one of my favourite books that I read this year.
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