Booker That Wuzn't

October 3, 2005 at 11:35 pm Leave a comment

The Guardian are asking people to nominate their ‘Booker that shoulda’ [groan] – a shortlisted book from the last ten years that ‘wuz robbed’ of the Booker Prize, with the best entry winning thirty shortlisted titles.

My first thought (me and thousands of others no doubt) was Cloud Atlas last year – a much more intriguing work than The Line of Beauty. Alan Hollinghurst may have toned it down a bit since The Swimming Pool Library but at times his books still read like soft gay porn to me – and I know whereof I speak. Intelligently written soft gay porn maybe, but wank fodder nonetheless.

However, rather than being a voice in the crowd, I decided to be a voice in the wilderness. I was drawn to Quarantine by Jim Crace, and so I chose to use my 100 words to advocate it thusly:


As I perused the Booker shortlists one book leapt out at me: a book so vivid I didn’t read it, I felt it. Is it really eight years since that winter evening I sat reading it by lamplight?

Transported back two thousand years by Jim Crace’s evocative prose. Being there, in the Judaean desert: seeing the harsh landscape; feeling the fierce thirst; smelling the sneeringly real people… (and is that god over there, or just a man?)

How could the judges have preferred the clinically-clever Rushdie-clone style of Arundhati Roy’s soulless and sometimes repulsive book, to Quarantine?

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Man Booker Prize 2005: Shortlist Posh Bingo?

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