The Birdcage Archives

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The Booker Prize 2017, Winner

Hello Gentle Reader

This year’s Man Booker Prize winner is, George Saunders, with his novel: “Lincoln in the Bardo.” The Booker judges praised, Saunders novel as: extraordinary and unique. Not bad for a writer who up until this point, had only written short stories. This year’s award once again broke convention and set precedence. For the second year in a row, an American writer has walked away with the Booker Prize. Though the win was greeted with cheers and appreciative applause; there are those who are more apologetic and dissatisfied, with the current direction of the award; some predicting and proclaiming with apocalyptic vision, the Booker Prize’s demise—or at the very least, its loss of cultural relevancy and importance.

In her opinion piece for “The Guardian,” Lucy Diver, offers commentary on the Booker Prize moving away from its ability to recognize daring and innovative literature, as it slowly is consumed in its own self-importance, whereby it recognizes literature of neocolonial influential powers of the United States, and the United Kingdom. Ms. Diver, comments on when Eleanor Catton’s massive novel: “The Luminaries,” won; it showed the power of the Booker Prize, to take risks and reap reward, with dark horse writers. This same result was once again captured in two-thousand and fifteen, when Marlon James won for his novel: “A Brief History of Seven Killings.” Lucy Diver reflects on how the Booker was able to put New Zealand (if only slightly and for the briefest of moments) on the literary map, with the outstanding news of Eleanor Catton’s win.  Such was the gift the Booker Prize could offer to writers of the common wealth. From the depths of the submitted publications, there could always be the dark horse; that writer who was just beginning to etch out their literary career such as: Eleanor Catton, Tom McCarthy, Marlon James, Kazuo Ishiguro, Deborah Levy; be it the author won or was just shortlisted, the recognition, name, association, and media attention could raise their prospects.

Now, the award is diluted in its prospects for up and coming writers, as the submission list is saturated in a surplus of works being force fed to the judges who must comply a longlist and a shortlist in relatively short time. So is the Booker Prize in for a disaster riddled future? Is it despair and devastation here and throughout? My vision maybe grey and always leaning towards the grim perspective of ‘unfortunate realities,’—it is not burning red with apocalyptic mania, where all that lies ahead is nothing more than a mushroom cloud of nihilism; detonated by the swollen egos of the United Kingdom and United States publishing industries. But it does leave one to wonder where other writers and countries sit on the list; what about New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, Canada, India and so on and so forth.

I found this year’s Booker Prize underwhelming over all. Both the longlist and the shortlist were at the end of the day representative of the literary status quo, with no real revolutionary changes or judgements being made. However, the lists on further inspection did show a certain engagement and inclination towards commentary on current socio-political issues; such as Ali Smith’s “Autumn,” discussing a post-Brexit world; or the relevant discussion of African-American history, and slavery as a large part of that historical context, outlined in George Saunders winning debut novel: “Lincoln in the Bardo.” This being said, the Booker Prize is a literary award, not a political one. Any socio-political commentary, engagement, or discussion, is that of the author; whether or not this assists or hinders the ability to win the award only the judges could say.

Over all Gentle Reader, I have found the Booker Prize rather dissatisfying and lacking in relevancy and imagination; becoming both trite and fraught with disappointment, only to be jolted back to life with an interesting work of fiction, though it doesn’t win (Tom McCarthy much?). For now though, George Saunders has won the Booker Prize and all the jovial congratulations to him.   

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read

M. Mary

To read Lucy Diver's article please see the following link 

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