Thursday, September 21, 2006

Booker Books Part One (In Which I Allude to My Ignorance)


Even though I'm in the book business, I rarely keep up with the assorted national prize winners of various literary competitions. I try to go over the Newbery and Caldecott lists, so that I can make sure to keep some copies in stock, but that's about it.

Being ignorant about "important" books isn't an attractive characteristic in a book clerk, so this year I'm doing a little something about it.
I ordered one each of the Booker Prize finalists (their novels rather), and am going to try to read them all by the October 10th announcement date.

The Booker Prize, as I took the time to learn this year is (from their website):

"The Man Booker Prize for Fiction represents the very best in contemporary fiction. One of the world’s most prestigious awards, and one of incomparable influence, it continues to be the pinnacle of ambition for every fiction writer. It has the power to transform the fortunes of authors, and even publishers. In 2004, not only did Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty reach the bestseller lists, but previous winners Life of Pi (2002) and Vernon God Little (2003) were also amongst the bestselling books of the year.


Now in its thirty-eighth year, the prize aims to reward the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. The Man Booker judges are selected from the country’s finest critics, writers and academics to maintain the consistent excellence of the prize. The winner of the Man Booker Prize receives £50,000 and both the winner and the shortlisted authors are guaranteed a worldwide readership plus a dramatic increase in book sales."

I made it a point not to read any synopses of any of the books ahead of time, so as not to prejudice myself against something I think I might not like.

I got the first one in the mail yesterday: "Carry Me Down" by M.J. Hyland. I read the flyleaf and the story sounds intriquing. A boy makes a decision early in his life to become the world's most talented lie detector.

I try to be asleep each work night by midnight, but this book kept me awake until one. I'm only on page 37, and not much has happened yet, but something about the writing is completely compelling. I actually had dreams throughout the night that it was the best book ever written. (I also dreamed that my friend's dog was housed in a papier mache oracle that looked like a dragon). I woke up thinking wtf?
Of course it's not the best book ever. But it's pretty darned excellent.

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