Like Steve Martin's title character in the movie The Jerk I wanted to run around the bookstore today waving the email yelling "The Man Booker 2005 Shortlist is here! The Man Booker 2005 Shortlist is here! The Man Booker 2005 Shortlist is here!" until I am wrestled to the ground by calmer saner folk and carted gently away. In my former store at the Ivy League University, literary awards were a big deal and the calls for the books would start almost immediately as the awards were announced in the UK. The reading tastes of my current customers out in the 'burbs runs to the Da Vinci Code and chick lit so my enthusiasm is met with polite smiles.
The Booker Prize, is given annually to the best work of contemporary fiction "written by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland" and is a very prestigous award (and a nice bit of pocket change, £50,000 - $91,109.53 in US dollars - to boot) and starts the big fall award season in which includes the Nobel Prize for Literature in October and the National Book Award in November.
What it means for writer is recognition and, eventually, money as the publishers pump out as many volumes as they can as soon as the award is announced.
It just frustrates the #$%@ out of me as these awards, especially the Man Booker, is a list of the shame I feel that I have not read enough of these authors or these books.
I can trust the Man Booker Shortlist if I am looking for a book literary novel. You should too.
The Man Booker Shortlist for 2005
John Banville, The Sea ISBN: 0307263118 March 2006
Julian Barnes, Arthur & George ISBN: 030726310X January 2006
Sebastian Barry, A Long Long Way ISBN: 0670033804
Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go ISBN: 1400043395
Ali Smith, The Accidental ISBN: 0375422250 January 2006
Zadie Smith, On Beauty ISBN: 1594200637
(Shh. Evidently Julian Barnes is favored to win according to PaddyPower.com .)