September 12, 2008
Richard Whitehead on the Man Booker Prize shortlist
But the impact fades quickly - sometimes in the moment it takes to turn the page of a newspaper. Who can honestly recall the winner last year of the Vic's Vac Spares Best Verse Memoir by a Former Policeman prize?
Yet, like sports fans, we instinctively know the contests that matter. For all the hoopla over the frocks, an Oscar still carries weight. It's the same with an Emmy, a Bafta, a Tony or, as we saw this week, the Nationwide Mercury Music Prize (and congratulations to Elbow, by the way. No, you haven't turned to the wrong bit of the paper, Guy Garvey's lyrics on The Seldom Seen Kid are profound and poetic - proper writing, in other words.)
So, the announcement of the Man Booker Prize shortlist this week carried its usual genuine frisson of excitement in the world of books. Nor is this purely a commercial matter. Those shortlisted and the eventual winner will enjoy a hike in sales, but not in quantities likely to trouble J.K. Rowling's accountants.