The Smoking Gun

September 17, 2006 at 10:28 pm Leave a comment

I am amused by the hoo-hah about David Mitchell not reaching the shortlist – Black Swan Green is nowhere near as highly rated as his previous novels and was only the bookies’ favourite by virtue of him being the most well known author on the longlist. The omission of Peter Carey’s Theft is a bit more dubious though. Are the judges really trying to tell us that it isn’t one of the six best novels of the year? Or has it been elbowed aside because he has already won the prize twice? Yes. I have no doubt about it: if that book had been written by an unknown author it would have made the list.
Read what the chair of the judges Professor Hermione Lee said in The Times about the omission of Mitchell, Carey and Andrew O’Hagan:

“These were all books that had extremely strong support and books which we thought were really considerable and moving and impressive, but in the end some books are more exciting and interesting to you than others.”

“What I feel, though, is that they are such talented and exceptional and splendid writers that they don’t need us. They will go on regardless.”
The judges change every year, but the psychology remains the same: they all want to ‘discover’ a great new talent. To choose an author or novel that everyone already knows about would make them feel a tad redundant – which is why so many favourites fail to make the shortlist.
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The 2006 Man Booker Prize Shortlist The WoMan Booker Prize 2006

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