Thinking about Samantha Harvey‘s book The Wilderness, which was longlisted for the Booker Prize, I started pondering whether the books that win prizes are often really the ‘best’ ones. For instance in 2005, the Booker winner was John Banville’s The Sea, beating Arthur and George by Julian Barnes, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and On Beauty by Zadie Smith, all three of which I’ve read and adored – but The Sea sounds like really hard work.
Or Vernon God Little, Booker winner 2003, which I got so annoyed by I threw it across it the room (though if anyone from Haringey library services is reading this, I mean ‘closed it carefully and put it back on the table’). And it beat Brick Lane, Oryx and Crake, Notes on a Scandal and Astonishing Splashes of Colour. Which seems crazy.
Does anyone else think that a Booker shortlisting is actually a better indication of a good read than a winner? The Costa Prize usually hits it on the nose – any others?