Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Finkler No Flunker

Howard Jacobson has won the £50,000 Man Booker Prize 2010 for his novel 'The Finkler Question'.

He had never been shortlisted before, despite most of his previous ten novels being cited as possible Booker winners, and the announcement was clearly very popular with those in attendance at London's Guildhall.

Former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion, who chaired the judges, described The Finkler Question as "a marvellous book: very funny, of course, but also very clever, very sad and very subtle. It is all that it seems to be and much more than it seems to be. A completely worthy winner of this great prize."

His fellow judges were Rosie Blau (literary editor of the Financial Times); dancer, writer and broadcaster Deborah Bull (Creative Director of ROH2 at the Royal Opera House); the biographer and critic Frances Wilson; and broadcaster Tom Sutcliffe (presenter of Round Britain Quiz).

In a typically funny acceptance speech Jacobson, after listing the many previous years in which his acceptance speeches went unused, said: "Tonight, I forgive everyone - they were only doing their job those judges, every one of whose names I could reel off."

I don't think I can forgive BBC News 24 for the way they abandoned his speech though. They just *had* to cut to "extraordinary scenes" of the President of Chile giving a speech about the impending rescue of the trapped Chilean miners. The rescue operation will only take about two days, and therefore couldn't possibly wait another five minutes. Sigh.

Ion Trewin, the literary director of the Man Booker Prizes, had described this year's shortlist as "the funniest in the history of the prize" although The Finkler Question isn't quite the first comic novel to win the prize, despite what everyone seems to think. Is DBC Pierre being airbrushed out of history now? Not to mention Kingsley Amis, Roddy Doyle and JG Farrell.

I'm delighted for Howard Jacobson, delighted that a comic novel has won a big award, and most of all delighted that a contemporary novel has won the Booker, which saves me a rant.

Howard Jacobson will be appearing at the Times Cheltenham Literary Festival on Saturday 16th, and speaking at the British Library on Thursday 21st October.

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