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2005 Booker prize longlist


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Yes, they are all middlebrow talents posing as highbrow to the general satisfaction of their agents and publishers, and the reading public.

Who, writing today in English*, is any better?

 

Edit: *There may be some Tajikistani out there who's writing the next Finnegans Wake on yak hide but my knowledge of Central Asian literature is limited.

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I read Saturday and rather liked it at the time, but in retrospect it has diminished considerably. This blog review is overlong to the point of plodding, but I think fairly on the mark. Haven't ready Arthur & George yet, but I probably will ... McEwan, Barnes and Amis were my adolescent intro to contemporary lit, poor me, and while I find them endlessly disappointing these days (Yellow Dog? Major suck) I still seem to be a reliable consumer. Having said that, I never did buy The Lemon Tree.

 

Of the people on the list I'm familiar with, I think Coetzee may have the greatest credibility. He's genuinely good. Not that I've read the new one.

 

Tash Aw, by the way, is the latest product of the UEA Creative Writing conveyorbelt that previously produced McEwan and Ishiguro -- and the new star signing of David 'Arundhati Roy' Godwin, the reigning king among the agents of commonwealth fiction. He allegedly got a £500k (yes, that's pounds sterling) advance for The Harmony Silk Factory, his first novel, which if true makes Zadie Smith's début deal (£250k for two, also allegedly) look relatively puny.

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is Mongo still here?  Is he not posting because he left or because he's in India?

The latter I believe.

Mm, yes, wandering around the subcontinent without internet access. Although he popped up yesterday or so, just long enough to express his indignation at missing the Jaymes Fest at Frasca.

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I have to admit this kind of list does leave me thinking about just how far behind the American novel the English one has been in the last 20 or 30 years... The decline into middle-age/misogeny/ political reaction of Amis say is terrible disappointing (OK, his gender politics were always suspect on some level, but it used to be funny at least). At his best when trying to write the American novel - Money, most obviously - anyway... I do love London Fields and The Information too, but have found everything since then verging on the embarassing.

 

Rushdie had a fine lyrical voice and Midnight's Children is a remarkable and inventive book but no more an English novel than American Pastoral or More Die of Heartbreak... There are certainly readable books by contemporary English novelists but in comparison to Roth, Bellow, Pynchon???

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