Rule #1: Don’t settle for mediocrity.

It seems, the further and further I delve into British literature, that the Booker Prize is really just a more British version of Oprah’s book club. They ooze this latent angst of middle-aged women, British restraint, and demand either that post-imperialist feel of old lands in new times or the distinctly reserved British home life.

I’m also convinced that each book picked for the Booker Prize in the last ten years was a cop out. A good book, doubtless, but ultimately a questionable book. And a book that was picked because that all couldn’t agree on one book, and so they had to settle on another. Or do you think they have the discussion of “We should make this award accessible, instead of literary…”

I’m of the opinion that they do. That all the selection committee (an ever shifting group) just picks a book they think the populous will like. A book for the housewives, and small time businesswomen who have a long ride on the train to work. The women who handle small businesses during the day and read those books for lack of anything better to do.

What is great about he award is the grandiose way those who award it treat the Booker prize. They take the books they’ve already awarded and say “That’s not good enough. Let’s give an ultimate Book prize.” which they gave to Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children. That was a good choice. But now they’re doing it again, and I can only imagine that since J. M. Coetzee won the Nobel prize for literature that the second ultimate Best-of-the-Bookers-Booker-Prize will go to Disgrace, even though I’m having trouble discerning the magic in his words.

Maybe this is all just a sign that the world of words is going to crap. Or, maybe it’s just the awards for literature that are going the way of the west wind. John Banville, a winner of the Book prize, said in an interview with the Village Voice “…the Booker Prize and literary prizes in general are for middle-ground, middlebrow work, which is as it should be. The Booker Prize is a prize to keep people interested in fiction, in buying fiction.”

I think he hit the nail on the head.

Here are the winners of the Booker Prize to date:

2007 The Gathering by Anne Enright

2006 The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
2005 The Sea by John Banville
2004 The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
2003 Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre
2002 Life of Pi by Yann Martel
2001 True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey
2000 The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
1999 Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee
1998 Amsterdam: A Novel by Ian McEwan
1997 The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
1996 Last Orders by Graham Swift
1995 The Ghost Road by Pat Barker
1994 How Late It Was, How Late by James Kelman
1993
Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle
1992 The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (co-winner)
1992 Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth (co-winner)
1991 The Famished Road by Ben Okri
1990 Possession: A Romance by A. S. Byatt
1989 The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
1988 Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey
1987 Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively
1986 The Old Devils by Kingsley Amis
1985 The Bone People by Keri Hulme
1984 Hotel Du Lac by Anita Brookner
1983 Life & Times of Michael K by J. M. Coetzee
1982 Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally
1981 Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
1980 Rites of Passage by William Golding
1979 Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald
1978 The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch
1977 Staying on by Paul Scott
1976 Saville by David Storey
1975 Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
1974 The Conservationist by Nadine Gordimer
1973 The Siege of Krishnapur by J. G. Farrell
1972 G. by John Berger
1971 In a Free State by V. S. Naipaul
1970 The Elected Member by Bernice. Rubens
1969 Something to Answer For by P. H. Newby

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