Not all buffs swayed by prizes like Booker

Not all buffs swayed by prizes like Booker

City book lovers say awards are not always a yardstick when it comes to picking out the next title

VS Naipaul's ‘In a Free State’ was shortlisted for the Golden Man Booker

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction has been a glorious mix of immense fame and public scandal for a long time now; an eye-catching combination that is sure to leave any celebrity jealous.

Seen more as a literary lottery than a genuine laurel, the prize has also been frowned on by many as being ‘too snooty’. However, there are others who feel that recognitions like this are a genuine way to ferret out the good writers from the rest. Metrolife spoke to bibliophiles to see whether awards make a difference to book titles for them.

Soma Bhattacharjee
Advertising professional

Literary awards act as a driving factor when readers look for a new book or a new author, especially in a new genre. I am a member of a club called ‘Bring Your Own Book’ and I have seen a lot of members bringing in award-winning books; they feel we shouldn’t miss out on these. Personally, I don’t go by the awards’ list because I have a set of writers I love to read. However, I don’t mind picking up award-winning books once in a while and if I like the author, I stick to him/her.

Yash Sharma
Freelance writer and editor

There’s a very limited idea of what a certain type of people consider as the ‘best book’. I follow the announcement of literature prizes but not religiously. But I do use the longlist and shortlist in the way that they bring to my attention works that might not have otherwise caught my eye.

Piyusha Vir
Writer and published author 

I always picked up books on the basis of whether they interest me more than what award they have won. I have recently begun paying more attention to the awards because of the fellow members of a book club that I am part of. I am still not actively following them though; I just want to know who won what.

Hall of fame

Since its founding in 1969, five authors of Indian origin have won the prize. V S Naipaul for ‘In A Free State’ in 1971; Salman Rushdie for ‘Midnight’s Children’ in 1981; Arundhati Roy for ‘The God Of Small Things’ in 1997; Kiran Desai for ‘The Inheritance Of Loss’ in 2006 and Aravind Adiga for ‘The White Tiger’ in 2008.

19 novels by 13 novelists of Indian or South Asian origin have made to the Booker Prize shortlist till date.

Best of the lot

To mark the prize’s 25th anniversary, a ‘Booker of Bookers’ Prize was given in 1993. Three judges chose Salman Rushdie’s ‘Midnight’s Children’ as “the best novel out of all the winners." In 2008, a ‘Best of the Booker’ prize was awarded to celebrate the prize’s 40th anniversary. A shortlist of six winners was chosen and the decision was left to a public vote; the winner was again ‘Midnight’s Children’.

This year, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the literary equivalent of the Nobel Prize, the ‘Golden Man Booker’ was awarded. One book from each decade was selected by a panel of judges. VS Naipaul’s ‘In a Free State’, Penelope Lively’s ‘Moon Tiger’, Michael Ondaatje’s ‘The English Patient’, Hilary Mantel’s ‘Wolf Hall’ and George Saunders’ ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’. ‘The English Patient’ won the award by popular vote.


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