Diff'rent Strokes

November 17, 2005 at 1:59 am Leave a comment

It’s a good job the government isn’t responsible for literary prizes, otherwise they would handpick judges to deliver the ‘right’ result. Look at Booker 2004: gay left-wing politician chairs the judges and the prize goes to a gay dissection of the right-wing 1980’s. Nothing more than a happy coincidence? You might think that: I couldn’t possibly comment.

There’s no such thing as true objectivity, of course, it’s all down to the judges’ personal preferences. No surprise then that the Whitbread Prize judges have almost completely disagreed with their Booker counterparts. Almost, but not quite: The Accidental by Ali Smith is the only novel to feature on both shortlists this year. Wonderful. As is their inclusion of Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down. Two books which have both touched me and made me laugh this year. Nothing po-faced about these judges.

I know nothing about The Ballad of Lee Cotton by Christopher Wilson which is also on their list, but a reviewer on Amazon suggests that “if you enjoyed Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre you will love this.” So that’s yet another book I have to read – as if there weren’t too many of those already. Mind you, they will probably all lose to the other book on the shortlist: Salman Rushdie’s Shalimar The Clown. After all, he who laughs last…

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Cracaleured Maenads Hermione in the chair

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