Very happy to see Salman Rushdie winning the Best of the Booker Prize Award.
Midnight’s Children won the Booker Prize in 1981. It was then chosen as the Booker of Bookers in 1993 – the only other time a celebratory prize has been awarded.
The Best of the Booker shortlist was selected by a panel of judges – the biographer, novelist and critic Victoria Glendinning (Chair), writer and broadcaster Mariella Frostrup, and John Mullan, Professor of English at University College, London. The decision then went to a public poll.
When voting closed at midday on 8 July over 7800 people had voted (online and SMS) for the six shortlisted titles, with 36% voting for Midnight’s Children. Votes flooded in from across the world with 37% of online votes coming from the UK, followed by 27% from North America.
Victoria Glendinning comments, ‘The readers have spoken – in their thousands. And we do believe that they have made the right choice.’
I need to read it again, if only I have the time… Whilst not as strong a book, IMHO, as the Satanic Verses (which has one of the best openings in any kind of fiction), it represented a start point in my reading life where I began to demand more from my fiction. It was the first book I’d ever read to so clearly show symbols, themes, motifs, with an electrifying style and humour, and how it can all be used to construct a truly unforgettable piece of fiction, (as opposed to what I saw being referred to, perhaps unfairly (but this is a subjective industry of course), as forgetful entertainment). Being half-Indian myself, sure I could really enjoy seeing the cultural clashes, but that aside it was one of the books to change how I view other books.
And there’s something encouraging about a magic realism book winning such an award, because it shows that those who are often accused of literary snobbery do like their fantasy.
While I’m pleased Rushdie has won the Booker of Bookers, I’m not sure I would have chosen Midnight Tides as the novel to win. Certainly The Satanic Verses is a better novel and will be Rushdie’s legacy, I think… but it’s still nice to see a blatant fantasist win the Booker of Bookers anyway!
I saw Rushdie speak soon after Step Across This Line was released, and during his speech (which was more a storytelling ramble than speech), he talked about his approach to and use of the fantastic. His perspective changed the way I look at fantasy from a critical stance, and I still have to finish up an article based on what I learned at that speech. Sigh.
Thanks for the link, by the by. Quite interested to read your noir epic fantasy, I must say.
Yeah, I think we’re in agreement on The Satanic Verses. That’s awesome you got to hear him speak. I’d love to see what kind of things he has to say. An important writer that straddles the two genres, I believe. I heard a rumour that his first novel was withdrawn from an SF/F award because the publishers wanted him to be a literary seller; I don’t know if it’s true or not…
Well I’m interested to see what people think of the noir epic fantasy! I think M John Harrison was the first to do that kind of thing, in Viriconium, and that’s been one of the big influences in it’s construction.
I am enormously fond of Harrison, so really, any kind of influence like that is sure to be a bonus with me as a reader.
Seeing Rushdie was definitely one of the cooler things I’ve experienced. I have very little awe when it comes to writers, but Rushdie is the real deal in my mind; one who is so erudite and so far beyond me in talent, intelligence and creativity that I couldn’t help bu be a little bit awed.