Prufrock's Page

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Prize Observations

Booker Prize judges are famous for shooting their mouth off before, during and after the judging process. Now, Francis Wilson, this year's Whitbread judge, asserts that it's virtue, and not merit, that literary prizes reward:

"[T]his querulous categorising of books into those which are good for you, and those which are not, [is] more quaint than instructive. Still, when it comes to judging prizes, we are all Leavisites: a good book is an improving experience...the real scandal of the literary prize is that it is rewarded for virtue. I would have been no more able to reward Harriette Wilson in 1825 for the pleasure given by her writing than I could Piers Morgan in 2005 for the pleasure afforded by his. As a culture, we award merit to narratives that are both factually accurate and redemptive, areas in which both Harriette Wilson and Piers Morgan quite magnificently fail."


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