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Literary Awards, a Monday Musing

musingmondays1Do you feel compelled to read prize-winning (Giller/Booker/Pulitzer etc) books? Why, or why not? Is there, perhaps, one particular award that you favour?

I’m a zealous reader of books long- and shortlisted for the Booker prize, the Orange Prize, and the Pulitzer Prize. Out of these three, Booker, which is short for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, is my favorite. It is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original full-length novel, written in the English language, by a citizen of either the Commonwealth of Nations or Ireland. The judging criteria, which preponderate on literary merits and language arts, as well as the past winners, have proven that nominations for this literary award are most attuned to my reading taste. Past winners, like Anita Brookner, John Berger, Alan Hollinghurst, John Banville, Michael Ondaatje, and Kazuo Ishiguro have all carved out a niche on my bookshelf. An exception is The God of Small Things, which I cannot read through after three attempts.

I made an effort to read through the 2008 shortlist: The White Tiger, The Secret Scripture, and The Clothes on Their Backs. Sea of Poppies, A Fraction of the Whole, and The Northern Clemency are sitting on my shelf waiting on their moments. Also lined up are some of the past winners:

Something to Answer For, P. H. Newby (1969)
The Elected Member, Bernice Rubens (1970)
Staying On, Paul Scott (1978)
How Late It Was, How Late, James Kelman (1994)
The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood (2001)
The Inheritance of Loss, Kiran Desai (2006)

The other two awards, Orange and Pulitzer, would supplement titles from countries that are not considered by Booker. I tend to avoid Nobel Prize for Literature winners except for authors that are already my favorites, like Jose Saramago and Toni Morrison. Nobel Prize delivers an impression that it’s more political, focusing on filling that quotas to appease everyone, making sure everybody has a piece of the pie. The result is the crowning of these very obscure, sometimes heard-of, writers whose literary merits by no means I do not question but the awards might seem too flattering.

Reading Salon: Booker Shortlist and Little Giant

The Sunday Salon.com

I have finished the review of The White Tiger but I have set my heart to read all five other books short-listed for this year’s Booker Prize to see how it measures up to the contenders.

Aravind Adiga The White Tiger (Atlantic) Winner
Sebastian Barry The Secret Scripture (Faber and Faber)
Amitav Ghosh Sea of Poppies (John Murray)
Linda Grant The Clothes on Their Backs (Virago)
Philip Hensher The Northern Clemency (Fourth Estate)
Steve Toltz A Fraction of the Whole (Hamish Hamilton)

I have enjoyed The Glass Palace and In an Antique Land so I will begin with Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppins. At the bookstore I purchased a copy of The Secret Scripture, which will be my last book for the Man Booker Reading Challenge. Meanwhile a stream of ARCs will be feeding my bookish appetite. Right off the bat is a novel that features local San Francisco author publicity. The debut novel will be published on Januray 8, 2009.

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker is your typical Ugly Betty type of story, but with more consequence. When Truly Plaice’s mother was pregnant, the town of Aberdeen joined together in betting how recordbreakingly huge the baby boy would ultimately be. The girl who proved to be Truly paid the price of her enormity. Truly Plaise is born a giant. She is all about bumps and bulges, Her father blames her for her mother’s death in childbirth. The preacher’s wife believes she has got the making of Satan in her. The school teacher calls her a little giant. Her education is stalled before it even starts. While her remarkable size makes her the target of constant humiliation and curiosity, her sister Serena Jane is an epitome of feminine perfection. The book does not read like chick lit although the major characters are girls. Forty pages into this novel set in 1950s New England, I’m already in the thrall of this unique book endowed with a mesmerizing folkloric feel. Tiffany Baker’s writing is very lyrical.

By the way, I finally become a member of Goodreads! I have to search for my friends who are on it. Are you on Goodreads? Let’s take a head count.

The 3 Book Meme, Book Awards

I know it won’t be long that I’m tagged for this interesting meme, which has been going around the book blogsphere. Iliana has passed it on to me to keep it going:

Here are the rules:

I am going to list three categories of books. Three “must reads”, three “keep your eyes on these”, and three “look for these soon”. Sticking with the three theme, I will tag three bloggers when I am finished. They should put these same lists on their blog, but subtract one book from each category and add one of their own. It should be fun to see how the lists change as they go.
The books with Stars are my additions:

3 Must Read Books
1. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
2. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
3. The Future of Love by Shirley Abbott**

3 Keep Your Eyes on These
1. The Likeness by Tana French
2. Brief Gaudy Hour by Margaret Campbell Barnes
3. Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles**

3 Look For These Soon
1. Home by Marilynne Robinson
2. Ballistics by Billy Collins
3. Company of Liars by Karen Maitland** (Coming 9/30)

3 Tags to keep this meme going
1. Gentle Reader from Shelf Life
2. Ted from Bookey Wookey
3. Jessica from The Bluestocking Society

Today’s question: Awards. Do you follow any particular book awards? Do you ever choose books based on awards? What award-winning books do you have? (Off the top of your head only- no need to look this up- it would take all day!) What’s your favorite award-winning book?

I participate the Man Booker Prize challenge so books off the top of my head are those short-listed for Booker.

The Man Booker Prize 2008 shortlisted novels are:

Aravind Adiga The White Tiger (Atlantic)
Sebastian Barry The Secret Scripture (Faber and Faber)
Amitav Ghosh Sea of Poppies (John Murray)
Linda Grant The Clothes on Their Backs (Virago)
Philip Hensher The Northern Clemency (Fourth Estate)
Steve Toltz A Fraction of the Whole (Hamish Hamilton)

I’m not familiar with any of these books, but I have enjoyed The Glass Palace and The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh. Award winners that are my all-time favorites include The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, Blindness by Jose Saramago, and Shroud by John Banville. Now this reminds me that I have to re-read The English Patient.