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Booker's 'literary snootiness'

11 October 2009

'I wish popular novelists wouldn't get so het up about the Booker. They seem to believe that their exclusion from the most prestigious literary award is a symptom of the snootiness of the literary establishment. No doubt some people are literary snobs; but most writers and readers accept that there are different genres, that the Booker is for literary fiction, and that's that... The latest is Jenny Colgan, in the Independent: "But the Booker's enduring legacy to me is this: this is Grown-up Serious Reading and would all you little sentimental people who like being entertained please scuttle back to your tawdry little comics, your Katie Prices, threefers and celebrity autobiographies."

If the Booker intends to be exclusive, it has failed on numerous occasions: Salman Rushdie, Thomas Keneally, Anita Brookner, Roddy Doyle, Pat Barker, Arundhati Roy, Ian McEwan, Yann Martel and Aravind Adiga are among the Booker winners to have, vulgarly, entertained huge readerships. Yes, other winners - John Banville, Anne Enright - have been tougher sells. That is inevitable, given the remit of the prize. But it is the Booker's emphasis on literary excellence that has won it such prestige, and that has brought authors to the attention of readers who might otherwise have overlooked them.'

Nick Clee in BookBrunch