Monday, July 27, 2009

A year late with the Booker


Tomorrow, July 28, the judges of this year's Man Booker Prize is set to announce their longlist for the award. The release of this list, the Booker's Dozen, is one of the most anticipated in the publishing industry. (The Booker's Dozen is made up of 13 books though.) Most of the time, a book included in the list immediately shoots to the top of bestseller lists.

Last year, after having read Aravind Adiga's novel, The White Tiger, I was inspired to read all the novels comprising the shortlist. Hey, if Michael Portillo, the chairman of the 2008 judging panel, says that all the shortlisted novels are "page turners," then they must be good reads, right?

Cut to several months later. Yes, I've managed to get all six books in the shortlist and, no, I haven't read all of them yet. I'm not sure if my idea of a page turner is the same as the judges'. Except for The White Tiger, the other 5 novels are anything but page turners. Three novels are so lengthy they have doorstop proportions -- Hensher's The Northern Clemency, Toltz's A Fraction of the Whole, and Ghosh's Sea of Poppies. Barry's The Secret Scripture is too serious and morose. I am, however, currently reading Grant's The Clothes on Their Backs and I'm finding it quite good. It's still not a page turner though.

Booker Prize winners are usually safe bets when you're looking for an enjoyable read. Most of my friends can't get over Martel's Life of Pi and Roy's The God of Small Things. My favorites are still Kelman's How Late It Was, How Late, a novel about an alcoholic on a downward spiral, and McEwan's Amsterdam, a short novel with a twisted ending.

How about you, dear reader? What's your favorite Booker novel?

8 comments:

Patrick said...

This is the first time I heard of Booker Price. Well obviously because I'm new to this book blogging thingy.

I just had to comment because I have a copy of Life of Pi and that's one of the books I bought a long time ago but haven't even read yet. I only bought it because it looked interesting that time. Now, I'm not sure anymore. Those other books are really unknowns to me so I can't say anything about them...

Scrap girl said...

I have headed over here from Michael's site as I was intrigued by your book shelf voyerism. I love looking at what people have on their shelves too. I just read this post and noticed I have two of the books in my collection, both I still need to read. I have The White Tiger and The Secret Scripture which I will need to get around to, but the others look good too.

Peter S. said...

@Patrick: Bookers are good reads. Check them out!

@Scrap girl: Hi! The White Tiger is a pretty interesting novel. It's a bit graphic though.

Stepford Mum said...

The White Tiger has long been on my book wishlist. I hope to buy it soon, either at the Manila Bookfair or one of the coming bookstore sales. I'm a sucker for prizewinning books and have read a fair few of the Booker winners and short/longlisters over the years, as well as Orange and Whitbread prizewinners and qualifiers. Still trying to think which one is my favourite though!

Peter S. said...

Hello, Stepford Mum! I'm partial to the Booker though. The White Tiger was one of my best reads last year.

rise said...

I read only a few Booker-winner novels. Among my favorites are Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth and The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. They tied for the prize.

The Best of the Booker was judged to be Midnight's Children by Rushdie. I borrowed that one from the lib, but had to return without finishing. *_*

Peter S. said...

Hello, rise! I had mixed feelings about Sacred Hunger. The English Patient though is very readable and quite a romantic one too.

Yes, Midnight's Children definitely deserves every praise heaped upon it.

Book pusher said...

Ian McEwan's Amsterdam is one I would count as a favourite and Rusdie's Midnight's Children. Usually I end up prefering one of the other books on the short list to the actually winner, in previous years favourite short listed but not winners have been David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas and Nicola Barker's Darkman.
I love AS Byatt and even though she won the Booker with Possession I don't think it is her best work but it is on my list of favourites. Another one I liked was Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre, the controversial 2003 winner.