One day, when I have time to explain all the sordid details, I will write about my book lists. There are two: One for fiction and one for non-fiction. They are both lists of books I want to read and each book on the list — there are close to 2,000 titles on each list — is awarded a certain number of points based on a tremendously complicated scoring system I've developed over the years. As I said, I'll write up the details one day when I have time. One big influencer, though, in the scoring system are literary awards. In Canada, the biggies are the Governor-General's awards and the Giller Prize. Internationally, it's the Man Booker Prize and a variety of others like the Orange Prize.
Books get on my list in a variety of ways but one key way is by being named to the shortlist for these and other literary awards. If the book is already on my list, it and every other work by the short-listed author also gets mucho points.
The point of the points system is: First, it's a nice way to spend the time while having a coffee on Saturday morning and Second, it helps determine what I'm to read next. (I have a slightly less complicated way of choosing what to read next that involves these lists and other things, but that's another story).
All of this is to say that for those of us who watch literary awards for one reason or another, it was a big day today because the finalists for the Man Booker prize was announced. Every literary award has its own flavour but for my money, any book shortlisted for the Booker (and, in Canada, for the Giller) are the kind of books I like. The tastes of the Booker juries over the years and my own seem to be in sympatico.
Here, then, are the authors up for this year's Man Booker Prize:
- Achmat Dangor
- Sarah Hall
- Alan Hollinghurst
- David Mitchell
- Colm Tóibín
- Gerard Woodward
Read the full press release with all the titles and more info about the Booker.
The Guardian newspaper also has a report on the announcement.
And what am I reading now? Finally getting around to Guy Vanderhaeghe's The Englishman's Boy, a 1996 winner of a G-G. So far, terrific. The non-fiction book du jour is Edmund Wilson's To the Finland Station. Interesting but it seems I will have to start all over again with it once I've read Vico and Michelet.