So the Man Booker prize has been declared, and the world’s media for once a year pretends to be interested in books.
Author and columnist Howard Jacobson has won the Man Booker Prize for his comic novel The Finkler Question.
Jacobson, who beat contenders including double winner Peter Carey, received the £50,000 prize at London’s Guildhall.
Chair of judges, Sir Andrew Motion, described the 68-year-old author’s book as “very funny, of course, but also very clever, very sad and very subtle”.
As a genre award, I like what the Man Booker offers – once you put aside just how painfully middle-class it all is. This is an award where people put what they think are deserving books into the limelight and say, quite simply: discuss. Whether or not you’re disappointed that so-and-so didn’t make the cut, there is something about generating discussion which is integral to literature and also selling books, which supports the industry. I always think that the usefulness of an award shows in the amount of discussion of the books that ensues. It’s why the Arthur C. Clarke Award is good (though perhaps has a minimal impact on sales compared to the Man Booker). The other good thing about the Man Booker (and the Clarkes) is that it seldom seems to have cliques; that is, new judges each year keep things relatively fresh and stops the same old faces being involved. This is useful, and makes the awards more honest – and therefore serves the genre of literary fiction well.
Other things I’ve seen online today: Cheryl Morgan discusses the Equalities and Human Rights Commission’s new report.
And then there was this comment from Piper Stockton: “I like reading and at the beginning I did miss a bit on the feeling of reading books. But now I love to hold the Kindle, the e-ink seems to work very well, it is really like reading books…”
All of the messages came in within minutes of each other, although they all cited different authors, gave different email addresses, and came from different IP addresses. But there was one notable thing beyond their similarity: they all cited the same url.
Who knows why someone would go through such a laborious effort and then flag their fakery for me like that. More important is the evidence this provides that Amazon, as I have suspected all along, either fosters or more likely employs astroturfers — that is, people to conduct a fake grass-roots campaign in support of the company and its products and tactics.
And here’s the question: If Amazon goes to such lengths to plant disinformation at little ole MobyLives, can you imagine the scale of their efforts to misinform bigger, more influential media?