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"Take it or leave it" - Booker chair

Man Booker chair of judges Stella Rimington has defended this year's shortlist, saying "take it or leave it", in a speech at the party held to celebrate the list in London's Kensington Gardens last night.

Speaking to assembled publishers, agents and authors, Rimington said of the shortlist, announced yesterday morning (6th September): "Take it or leave it; like it or not, we're very proud of it".

Man Booker Prize for Fiction literary director Ion Trewin said: "It's an exceptional year. The publishers on this year's shortlist are not your
traditional list of literary publishers. It feels like a significant moment."

Meanwhile, the shortlist garnered a wealth of coverage in the national press. Alongside a news article on the surprise omission of previous winner Alan Hollinghurst's The Stranger's Child (Picador) from the shortlist, Independent literary editor Boyd Tonkin, wrote that the judging process "seems to have lost much of its focus", delivering "a curiously mixed bag of worthwhile novels".

He called the Man Booker an "eccentric annual ritual" and asked for "change", arguing that the prize risks losing its authority. He posited "more explicit judging criteria; permanent jury members; selection by judges rather than submission by publishers" as ways of saving its reputation.

The Times and the Guardian both picked up on the first-time appearance of a western-themed novel, The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt (Granta), on the shortlist. The Times also highlighted a comment from judge Chris Mullin who said: "What people said to me when it was announced I would be on the judging panel was, 'I hope you choose something readable this year'. That for me was such a big factor. They had to zip along."

In its analysis, the Guardian called Hollinghurst's omission the "biggest surprise yet", but said the novel's plot, about an aristocratic young poet in the early years of the 20th century, could "be seen as a minority interest".

In the Daily Mail, the coverage focused on Pigeon English author Stephen Kelman's inclusion and his history of living on a council estate. Kelman is quoted as saying: "It's like I have gatecrashed the party. It's nice to see the new boys muscling in on the old guard."

Meanwhile, independent audiobook company W F Howes is gearing up to meet demand after finding it has four of the six titles on the shortlist for this year's prize—Half Blood Blues; Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch; The Sisters Brothers;  and Snowdrops by A D Miller. Publisher Dominic White said: "We are gearing up for audio sales to significantly increase as a result of the shortlist announcement. These are exceptional books and the audio format has become an important alternative for readers."

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Like it or not, let's not forget that the people who will buy these titles, (or loan them from libraries) probably aren't going to be fussing as to who made it onto the shortlist or who didn't and why.

These titles will gain so much coverage regardless of what list they made it onto, will no doubt soon appear on the bestseller lists and are going to be bought by the general public, who hopefully don't have the same elitist, snobby attitudes towards the outcome as people like Boyd Tonkin do, who will hopefully get stung by the bee hovering in his bonnet just because a writer he likes didn't make the list.

I'm afraid I'm one of those 'does it matter as long as it gets people buying and reading books' kind of people. Maybe critics of any prize should stop whinging about the outcome and think about the positive impact it will have on the booktrade.

Well, The Finkler Question was so appalling it made me finally swear off reading newly-published literary fiction. That's an impact, all right.

I liked the Finkler question...but that's part of the joy of reading - people never agree!

This years shortlist is interesting. Hollinghurt didn't deserve a place as his book reads like he fulfilling a contract rather than creating something wonderful. The rest of the list is readable, sellable but has a real merit.
and good on Stella for telling it how it is!

"Well, The Finkler Question was so appalling it made me finally swear off reading newly-published literary fiction. That's an impact, all right."

Oh, you've made my morning. This is, by definition, the most stupid thing anyone has ever said on any of these threads, which is worthy of a small award in itself. I salute you!

I feel that if people what to read a certain title they are going to and it really doesn't matter whose list they made it on or didn't make it on.

I think these lists are a great accomplishment though and I hope this process continues.

  •  

     

     

    Die online casinowelt ist voller Spieler aus Ländern, in denen Online spielen legal ist und die Spieler viel gewinnen.

As bookshop owners my husband and I have read the whole Booker longlist every year for the last four years and pick out our shortlist before the the official one is announced. This year we were really delighted to find how unusually accessible the whole longlist was- made the whole experience very pleasurable. Our only big disappointment was the ommission of Sebastian Barry from the final 6- 'On Canaan's side' is not only a great story but it is really beautiful prose. My final 6 were the same as the official ones, except I had picked Sebastian Barry instead of 'Snowdrop'.
Well done, Stella, for highlighting some great reads, every one of which we will be recommending to our customers- including Shamrach's Menagerie- revolting but incredibly compelling!

Like it or not, let's not forget that the people who will buy these titles, (or loan them from libraries) probably aren't going to be fussing as to who made it onto the shortlist or who didn't and why.

These titles will gain so much coverage regardless of what list they made it onto, will no doubt soon appear on the bestseller lists and are going to be bought by the general public, who hopefully don't have the same elitist, snobby attitudes towards the outcome as people like Boyd Tonkin do, who will hopefully get stung by the bee hovering in his bonnet just because a writer he likes didn't make the list.

I'm afraid I'm one of those 'does it matter as long as it gets people buying and reading books' kind of people. Maybe critics of any prize should stop whinging about the outcome and think about the positive impact it will have on the booktrade.

Well, The Finkler Question was so appalling it made me finally swear off reading newly-published literary fiction. That's an impact, all right.

I liked the Finkler question...but that's part of the joy of reading - people never agree!

This years shortlist is interesting. Hollinghurt didn't deserve a place as his book reads like he fulfilling a contract rather than creating something wonderful. The rest of the list is readable, sellable but has a real merit.
and good on Stella for telling it how it is!

"Well, The Finkler Question was so appalling it made me finally swear off reading newly-published literary fiction. That's an impact, all right."

Oh, you've made my morning. This is, by definition, the most stupid thing anyone has ever said on any of these threads, which is worthy of a small award in itself. I salute you!

I feel that if people what to read a certain title they are going to and it really doesn't matter whose list they made it on or didn't make it on.

I think these lists are a great accomplishment though and I hope this process continues.

  •  

     

     

    Die online casinowelt ist voller Spieler aus Ländern, in denen Online spielen legal ist und die Spieler viel gewinnen.

As bookshop owners my husband and I have read the whole Booker longlist every year for the last four years and pick out our shortlist before the the official one is announced. This year we were really delighted to find how unusually accessible the whole longlist was- made the whole experience very pleasurable. Our only big disappointment was the ommission of Sebastian Barry from the final 6- 'On Canaan's side' is not only a great story but it is really beautiful prose. My final 6 were the same as the official ones, except I had picked Sebastian Barry instead of 'Snowdrop'.
Well done, Stella, for highlighting some great reads, every one of which we will be recommending to our customers- including Shamrach's Menagerie- revolting but incredibly compelling!