And The Booker Goes To...Philip Roth?
"If you want genuinely great writing, read Updike; read Roth; read Franzen; read Delillo. Hear in their work many types of beauty, not only a kind of linguistic chamber music. See how they use actual comedy, words that make you laugh, not just that most dead literary trick, narrative irony. And, most importantly, discover how the mundane, the everyday, the unserious, the undignified, the low, the grubby, and the sleazy are where modern prose finds its real poetry."
In earlier years, one would have agreed wholeheartedly; but this time around, the Booker shortlist was so very strong that one isn't so sure. It's been a comparatively disappointing year for American fiction, with even highly-awaited works like Specimen Days and Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close proving to be less than satisfying. Perhaps E.L. Doctorow's just-released The March would have been a Booker contender this year; offhand, nothing else really comes to mind. Next year may well be a different story: if nothing else, one is already looking forward to Philip Roth's Everyman, to be released in May 2006.