Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Brought To Book(er): A Disgruntled Reader Speaks

It’s always nice to get a comment or two, but Crimefic (of the rather wonderful It’s A Crime! Or A Mystery! interweb yokeybus) took the concept into a whole new realm when offering her two cents on the Man Booker Prize post below. And, given that it’s longer, smarter and far more passionate that the usual tripe we serve up, we thought it only right to repeat it in full. To wit:
“Not to detract from or devalue Anne Enright’s [pictured right, the attractive lady in the middle] win – I have not read anything on the Booker shortlist for this year - but I do think the Booker proved itself to be lacking any real excitement this year. It’s almost like “welcome and have some champagne” but the bottles had been opened 24 hrs before ... Perhaps the comments of the chairman of the judges and literary newspaper hacks served to add some fire to proceedings, but all in all it was a damp squib that caught little of readers’ imaginations and attention. Sometimes the death knell croaks and I suspect the Booker prize has faced that this year. I hope the organisers take the time to perform some navel gazing and revisit what it’s all about. Perhaps a clearer statement on objective and eligibility criteria will result. Booksellers seem hell-bent on “commercial” these days; courting and cosseting celeb authors and their ghosts. This all seems a divergence from supporting literary talent. Then the Booker embraces one or two best-selling lit authors, plus a band of what can only be described as the “obscure”. The latter may be really good and worth the promotion of being on the long or short lists, but it’s hard to be hungry for these when that’s the only balance on the lists. Mark Lawson has written an article indicating that the Booker is about pushing the spotlight onto the less known, but you won’t read that on Booker’s own web pages. Then there’s the lack of crime fiction (annually, ad infinitum). Is it so hard to cut the mustard if you write in that genre? Not sure who to chuck the accountability tag at here – the organisers, judges or the publishers who submit the novels for consideration – but there’s a group of people out there who miss the sailing of the RORO ferry every year. And hidden within the cargo on that celebratory ferry are many gems of damn good writing and storytelling. Because it’s perceived as contraband it deserves to remain outside the scope of this prize? Come on Booker, get real and broaden your horizons. The tastes of the reading public should be reflected too. They ain’t all bad, you know! Finally, am I the only one to wonder occasionally at the choice of the judges? (A question not based on this year alone, I emphasise.) That’s another area I think they should revisit. And when they present biographies of what they perceive to be “the great and the good” for those put on a pedestal for judging purposes, they might like to add why these judges qualify in the reading arena. The Booker now seems to diverge from annual event of excitement to small fry exhibit with big prize … They really need to reconnect with the reading public for next year’s round. Otherwise, I suspect, the death knell will croak again.”
Is Crimefic right or wrong? Have you enjoyed any of the Booker’s shortlist nominees this year? Have you even heard of the Booker bunfight? Pray tell, people …

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