My Pub Quiz Fantasy – The Man Booker Prize

This will be one of the favourites

I am quite spectacularly useless at pub quizzes.  How can it be that I know nothing at all about Paris Hilton and her ilk, dangerously little about the All Blacks and am so abysmally bad at the recognition of pop stars. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have been reduced to banging my glass of Pinot Gris onto the table and demanding: “When will they ask me something that I know?”  To which the Pub Quiz Wunderkind (PQW) from Customer Welcome countered – “What do you know, exactly?”

Well PQW, I know about The Man Booker Prize – the literary event that everybody loves to hate. Writing careers are made or broken on its back and it is about to wreak its annual havoc on the 9th October. I love the Booker prize for the massive interest in contemporary fiction that it inspires, so I took a vow to read every single Booker prizewinning novel from the beginning of time. Here’s what I have to look forward to this year:

You can’t look at this list of loveliness and not be moved to ask: Which book would you choose as the winner? And this being the Booker prize, the follow on question: Which book will actually win?

Fast forward to my fantasy. It’s Pub Quiz night and some poor suckers have been saddled with me as a team mate. A double point question comes up: “What was the third novel written by Booker Prize nominee Damon Galgut?”

This is my fantasy, so only I will know the answer. It is the unforgettable The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs. The crowd will go wild. The PQW will come over all respectful, I’ll be shouted another glass of plonk and my team will win.

Is this too much to ask?

What are your picks for this year’s Man Booker?

14 thoughts on “My Pub Quiz Fantasy – The Man Booker Prize

  1. Helen Lowe 23 September 2010 / 4:29 pm

    I have only read two (so far) of this year’s Man Booker finalists, Andrea Levy’s “The Long Song” and Emma Donoghue’s “Room”. I enjoyed “The Long Song”, but I loved “Room”. Mind you, I also loved Christos Tsiolkas’s “The Slap” and that didn’t even make the shortlist, so clearly my preferences are not to be relied upon!

    However, if one goes by statistical probabilities, the chances of either writer winning the Booker, given that they are both women (ie the statistics would suggest that it isn’t called the “Man” Booker for nothing) are not so likely. And the sentimental money may be on Carey to win it for an historic third time … Statistically again, though, history would suggest that the bookies’ favourite is also unlikely to win … That being said, I believe that Hilary Mantell confounded both statistical trends (ie a woman and the bookies’ favourite) by winning last year. So I guess what I’m trying to say is–I really don’t have a clue how the decision will go on the night. (Although I am quite sure it has already been made!)

    • Roberta Smith 26 September 2010 / 10:52 am

      I’ve picked Room up about three times and haven’t yet managed to get into it. Maybe another day? Word on the street has it that it could well be the winner, but I do wonder about that Peter Carey though.

      • Helen Lowe 26 September 2010 / 12:43 pm

        In response, as well, to your general query of “why can’t I get into Room?”–it is pretty much a truism though, isn’t it, that we don’t all like the same things? My initial response was that I didn’t want to read Room because I scanned the back covwr and went “Oh no, this is going to be direly grim.” But I was very quickly hooked, probably by the end of the second chapter and just wanted to keep reading. Something perhaps to do with the humanity of the boy and his mother, or the clinging to humanity in the face of the odds? There were a few points in the book that stretched my credulity (around the capabilities of 5 year olds, mainly)but not enough to spoil my overall enjoyment of the story.

        But I don’t think it will win, in part because of the tight scope of the story and its intimacy, but also, dare I say it, because it is too accessible and I suspect the Booker judges got that out of their system last year with Wolf Hall.

        Carey is my “intuitive” pick, but really, I don’t have the faintest idea … 🙂

  2. tewp 23 September 2010 / 4:53 pm

    As the fiction selector, I am shocked to say I haven’t read any. My wife reviewed Peter Carey for The Press and said it was very good but not that good. I was brassed off that my favourite author Jonathan Coe didn’t get on to the shortlist and Catherine O’Flynn should have been there for her second novel. I think Andrea Levy deserves a win and it would be nice to see Howard Jacobson who has done a while pile of often outrageous books about being Jewish in Britain win but I doubt he will. I suspect that “Room” will romp in.

    • robertafsmith 24 September 2010 / 5:32 pm

      I haven’t read them all either – this is a pleasure (?) to be savoured over the next few months!

  3. Donna 23 September 2010 / 5:08 pm

    It seems like every year I knock off a couple – this year I’m thinking:
    Jacobson – supposedly pretty damn funny, and I’m a sucker for that rare beast the bone-dry comic writer.
    And C sounds experimental, odd and worth pursuing, & the book cover has me intrigued.

    • robertafsmith 23 September 2010 / 9:06 pm

      Don’t even get me started on covers – what a lacklustre crop this year, really only C and The Long Song cut the mustard in my opinion.

  4. Allison 24 September 2010 / 2:32 am

    I made the mistake of starting to read from the Long List. This has meant that I’ve developed unhelpful attachments to books that didn’t make it to the Short List, i.e. the incomparable Helen Dunmore’s The Betrayal and the David Mitchell’s The 1 000 Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.

    And so it is that I look askance at those that did make it. Silly, I know and I’ll get over it. What’s your recommendation for a starting point? Did you read the Galgut, intrepid reader that you are?

    • robertafsmith 24 September 2010 / 8:18 am

      I am a Galgut Groupie. This one has the huge advantage (for his career as a writer anyway) of NOT being set in South Africa!

  5. Glynis 24 September 2010 / 9:23 am

    I’ve not read any of those yet … but look forward to it being YOUR TURN at book club in November! BTW, Paris Hilton would know even less about herself than you do.

    • robertafsmith 24 September 2010 / 9:27 am

      Steel yourself for that Book Club, it could be scary!

  6. helen 24 September 2010 / 9:59 am

    At the moment Room would be the one that I am drawn to the most, but being a Gemini it is very easy for me to flick to “in a Strange Room” at least I’m keeping room in my Titles….

  7. Roberta Smith 26 September 2010 / 10:53 am

    Why can’t I get into Room?

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