Book Club Special: Booker Prize 2012
Which author will scoop this year’s Man Booker Prize. The bookies have their opinions and we beg to differ…
You might have noticed that Friday Book Club took a summer break, a la parliament. But now we’re back. And we’re back with a bang, if we say so ourselves. Tonight, the Oscars of the literary world will take place in London. Following a gala dinner at the Guildhall, the winner of the Man Booker Prize 2012 will be announced, and one author will instantly be £50,000 better off.
If you’ve seen the shortlist for this year’s prize, you’ll notice the books on it are markedly different to last year’s nominations. Whereas critics panned last year’s list for being ‘too readable’ this year’s list is nearly guilty of going the opposite way – for instance, Will Self’s Book, Umbrella, doesn’t have chapters or page breaks and it’s been described by the judges as ‘draining’.
The bookies have already voted for the winner with their odds. They’re tipping Will Self 2/1 and Hilary Mantel 6/4. But the behaviour of the audiences at last night’s Man Booker warm-up event told a different story. Following an ‘audience with’ style session with all 6 shortlisted authors, people had the opportunity to queue up and get their books signed. And Will Self had time to roll a cigarette between signatures.
In the true light of the Southbank Centre, most people were leap-frogging between the prize’s underdogs to get their books signed. Deborah Levy signed copies of Swimming Home like they were going out of print, Alison Moore ran the risk of repetitive strain injury in signing her name on The Lighthouse, and Jeet Thayil made a production line of his autographed copies. All of the above are either first-time novelists, or they’ve had their books published by independent publishing houses.
Here at Book Club, we have to admit, we’ll be disappointed if the usual suspects win. We would love to see Alison Moore claim victory. Her book is the photographic negative of a novel. You don’t realise it until the end, but Moore doesn’t actually tell the story of The Lighthouse, she writes around it, and you infer for yourself what happens. We’d be equally as happy if Jeet took this year’s title. His opening 6 pages, with no full stops or semi colons, knocked our socks off when we read it.
But it’s the judges rather than the voice of the people that matters tonight. You can catch the result on BBC News at 10pm.