Prufrock's Page

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Should Be Booked

The sheer laziness of journalists who use cliched tags instead of possessing some knowledge of a subject never ceases to amaze. One such tag, when it comes to literature at least, is "the Booker Prize", which automatically bestows a halo of worthiness upon the book in question -- it matters little whether the book has won the prize or is even eligible to win it.

Take, for example, the puff piece on Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi in today's Hindustan Times' Style supplement (Mumbai edition). We're told that Shanghvi says: "The most potent memory of my recent visit [to Berkeley] is meeting Booker Prize winner John Berendt..." An American author of non-fiction works winning the Booker? Now, that's news.

And here it is again, earlier in the piece, in another supposed quote from the author: "It was a great feeling to see my book...between Booker Prize winners Saturday by Ian McEwan and Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro". Well, last year, Saturday wasn't even on the short-list, and, as everyone ought to know, it was John Banville's The Sea that won the prize. (What Shanghvi obviously meant was that the writers in question had won the Booker, which the journalist -- but naturally -- misunderstood.)

Enough to put one off breakfast, being confronted by such articles early in the morning.


  • I read a few pages of Shanghvi's book and simply could not endure more. Hastily returned it to the bookstore shelves, and recovered only by leafing through Stardust.

    I don't know what to make of prizes, considering Jhumpa Lahiri was given one for such mediocre work.

    You've got lots of really lovely articles going here. I've quite a bit to catch up on.

    By Anonymous sk, at 12:43 AM  

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