One-Minute Book Reviews

October 16, 2007

Irish Novelist Anne Enright Wins the Man Booker Prize, and the Judges Dodge a Bullet

Whew. That was close. No, not the betting on which of the frontrunners for the 2007 Man Booker Prize, Lloyd Jones‘s Mister Pip and Ian McEwan‘s On Chesil Beach, would win (though only a hair’s breadth separated their odds at the end).

What was really a squeaker was how close the judges may have come to honoring one of those novels, neither worthy of a major international award. Tonight the prize went instead to the Irish novelist Anne Enright‘s The Gathering, which was all but impossible to find in the U.S. in the days leading up to the ceremony (based on my efforts to obtain a copy through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, independent booksellers, and libraries). I hope to review it as soon as it becomes available. In the meantime you can read more about The Gathering at www.themanbookerprize.com.

Tomorrow: Full color makes its debut on One-Minute Book Reviews with a discussion of the cover of Katha Pollitt’s Learning to Drive (reviewed today) and comments on book covers generally. That post is part of a new series that occasionally will discuss the covers of books reviewed on this site and why they do or don’t fit the books.

Thank you for visiting One-Minute Book Reviews.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

October 15, 2007

Will a Book Written at a Third-Grade Reading Level Get the Man Booker Prize for Fiction Tomorrow?

Tomorrow we ‘ll find out if the Man Booker Prize for Fiction www.themanbookerprize.com will go to New Zealander Lloyd Jones’s Mister Pip, a novel written at a third-grade reading level, according to the readability statistics on Microsoft Word. For more on this potential embarrassment to one of the world’s most prestigious literary prizes, see the post “Dumbing Down the Man Booker Prize” that appeared on this site on Sept. 24 www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/09/24/ and the follow-up post the next day on the broader issue of dumbing-down literary awards www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/09/25/.

Jones had been the frontrunner in the betting at London bookmaking firms. But the race has turned into an apparent dead heat between Mister Pip and Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/08/10/, which has its own problems described in the review on this site.

I couldn’t review all the finalists, because some aren’t yet available in the United States. But I’ll have at least a brief comment on the awards as soon as possible after the winner is named.

(c) Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

September 21, 2007

Dumbing Down the Man Booker Prize for Fiction: Reading Levels of Finalists and Past Winners Exposed on Monday

Which finalist for the Man Booker Prize is written at the same grade level as Mitch Albom’s For One More Day?

The site for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction themanbookerprize.com bombastically declares that the prize is “the world’s most important literary award.” That’s not true — the Nobel Prize in Literature www.nobelprize.org is the most important — but the Man Booker probably ranks second. It carries a cash award of 50,000 pounds (about $101,000 dollars), or ten times as much the top American literary honors, the National Book Award www.nationalbook.org and Pulitzer Prize www.pulitzer.org, worth $10,000 each. And the Man Booker site says, correctly, that the prize “has the power to transform the fortunes of authors an even publishers,” as the little-known Edinburgh firm of Canongate www.canongate.net discovered when its Life of Pie took top honors in 2002.

So why have this year’s Man Booker judges squandered some of the cachet of the prize by shortlisting a book written at the third-grade level of Mitch Albom’s For One More Day www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2006/11/16/?

On Monday One-Minute Book Reviews reveals the reading levels of some current finalists for the prize and compares them with that of former winners such as Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, Anita Brookner’s Hotel du Lac, Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children and Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All righs reserved.

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