Thursday, September 08, 2005

The 2005 Booker shortlist…

has been announced, and this is what it looks like:

The Sea - John Banville
Arthur & George - Julian Barnes
A Long Long Way - Sebastian Barry
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
The Accidental - Ali Smith
On Beauty - Zadie Smith

No major surprise, except perhaps that James Meek’s The People’s Act of Love was left out – I haven’t read it but apparently it was the favourite in some circles (including the Guardian – admittedly biased, what with Meek being on their rolls). Big names like McEwan, Rushdie and Coetzee are out of the reckoning, but again, nothing so eyebrow-raising about that given how many big names there were on this year’s longlist to begin with. (As chairman of judges John Sutherland said, “There was sufficient quality this year for two distinguished lists.”)

Have read three of the six books on the shortlist (the Ishiguro, the Barnes, the Ali Smith) and will tackle the others anon. I have a feeling this could be Barnes’s year (not just because of my high opinion of Arthur & George but because he’s a veteran - and a member of that famous Granta young authors’ class of 1981 - who’s never won the prize before).

It’s only in the last 3-4 years that I’ve developed an excitement for the Booker announcements comparable to Oscar-nomination mania (and no, I’m not saying I have much respect for either the Booker or the Oscars, or any other competitive award – just that these events are always such fun, both for speculative purposes and for mugging up trivia).

P.S. Fun's begun already – much scrapping on the Guardian blog.


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  2. Jabberwock: just reading the Guardian blog - isn't it interesting how polarised the reactions to Saturday are - some people seem to be utterly dismayed that it didn't make it, others seem to be almost triumphant. Personally I'm among the disappointed (I'm still half way through but I really love it - I think it's SSOOO much better than Amsterdam, which, to be honest, I never really took to), but I think the fact that the book seems to have had the kind of impact it has is reason enough to have included it in the shortlist.

    Still I guess the Booker (like the Oscar) is about so many things other than the quality of the writing itself. (think you may be right about Barnes, btw - haven't read the book yet, but he's definitely due for a Booker).

  3. Disheartening to learn that Shalimar the Clown failed to make the short list.

  4. somehow this seems to have confirmed my impressions of the books on the list, none of which i have read: rushdie getting unreasonable hype for his first book in awhile that doesn't suck; mcewan getting blown out of proportion for the whole 9/11 thing, which has so far only generated crap art; and some other stuff i've forgotten as i vomit this out. Oh, I know what it was: Amsterdam was rubbish, the one to read is Enduring Love.

    One question: Has Bannville delivered the goods again? The Untouchable was such a great read and then everything else i tried was like taking the history of lit. crit. again. (I dropped the first time, and all the others).

  5. No!

    The McEwan to read is "The Innocent".