The “longlist” for the 2005 Man Booker Prize, awarded for “the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the [British] Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland,” has been announced. I’ve read two of the 17 candidates. I was not impressed with Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, finding it at best average SF getting attention only because it was treated as “literature” because Ishiguro wrote it. (Here’s my review). I loved Ian McEwan’s Saturday and would put it on any shortlist for book of the year. (Here’s my review with additional comments here and here).
“Consumer” voting starts Monday for the new Quill Awards. There are five nominees in each of 19 different categories and one will ultimately get Book of the Year. Not only is there public voting at Borders bookstores and online, the awards ceremony will be telecast. While an interesting approach, I still fear this creates the potential of the “People’s Choice” awards of the book world. (But since I’m a people, too, I’ll probably vote).
The Sidewise Awards for Alternate History were announced during the same convention at which the Hugo awards were announced but, naturally, didn’t draw quite as much attention. Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America won the award for “best long-form” — but then it was the only nominee. Like Ishiguro’s book, I found it another example of passable SF getting a huge audience and good reviews because, being written by a “literary” author, it wasn’t treated as SF.
We shouldn’t teach great books, we should teach a love of reading.