Ten years ago, when the Man Booker Prize was turning forty, I read the celebratory anniversary shortlist in the months leading up to the debut of The Mookse and the Gripes (that’s why several of those first reviews are on those very books!). This year, the Man Booker Prize is 50 years old! To celebrate five judges were chosen to put together another one-off celebratory prize: Golden Man Booker Prize. Each judge was assigned a decade and chose what he or she considered to be the best Booker winner in that period. Here is the list they came up with.
- In a Free State, by V.S. Naipaul (chosen by Robert McCrum)
- Moon Tiger, by Penelope Lively (chosen by Lemn Sissay)
- The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje (chosen by Kamila Shamsie)
- Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel (chosen by Simon Mayo)
- Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders (chosen by Hollie McNish)
These are certainly not the books I expected to see. No Midnight’s Children (which won the Best of the Booker, I think like five times now), no Remains of the Day, no Possession, no J.M. Coetzee at all. I don’t mind all of that, but I do still feel a twinge of pain when I see Lincoln in the Bardo on the list. I’m just not one who thinks the prize should have expanded to include American writers. I suppose that might be a good representative of this past decade, though, only for me not in a good way.
I’d recommend checking out this article at The Irish Times, where they write about the books a bit as well as include each judge’s reason for picking that particular book.
Are any of you planning to read the five books? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts as you go along!