Booker judge admits it’s nearly impossible to read ALL the books.

From Lit Hub:

In a refreshing “quiet part loud” moment earlier this fall, this year’s celebrity Booker judge, Peep Show’s Robert Webb, admitted publicly that it’s basically impossible to read the entire pre-longlist pool of 163 books in seven months. While that’s not exactly a novel-a-day, as Webb suggests, it’s pretty damn hard, particularly if you have a day job that has nothing to do with reading books.

Webb’s big mistake, of course, wasn’t that he didn’t finish every single novel, but that he admitted it. Most of us who read professionally can tell by the 50-page mark if we don’t like a book: the DNA of truly great writing is usually there in each sentence, each paragraph, and so we read on.

. . . .

It’s always been the case that the more you look behind the scenes of literary prizes the more arbitrary (and silly, frankly) the whole enterprise seems. If we’re being honest, the point isn’t to pick the ONE TRUE best novel (that’s not how art works) but rather to remind the broader public that novels exist, that they should be celebrated, and, while we’re at it, purchased in hardcover for $29.99.

Link to the rest at Lit Hub

PG suspects there are many different and more effective ways for selecting the Booker prizes than by inviting a group of traditional publishing insiders to read (or not read) the candidates and then vote according to the best interests of their publisher.

PG is not suggesting that such behavior would ever occur in the hallowed and dusty halls of major publishing.

2 thoughts on “Booker judge admits it’s nearly impossible to read ALL the books.”

  1. An insight came to me last night when I was talking over zoom with some people that I know that people buy books because they are perceived as having value, rather than reading books for entertainment.

    The point being that I noted a lot of my friends were not reading much, whereas I’ve lost count of the number of books I’ve read this year (sort of lost count, north of 32 off the top of my head, the total is more), and for clarification these friends are avid SF&F fans.

    Also, old like me, but while we share the years they no longer find enjoyment in the genre.

  2. They do seem to often select the debut novel of an interesting and colorful writer. And then talk that up – some of the descriptions of experimental styles make the books sound like a horrible slog (entirely in CAPITALS, composed of a LINKED SERIES OF HAIKU, epistolary but in TWEETS…), so the reader who finds the book dense and unreadable believes it is themself who has the problem.

    Why anyone would buy and READ something they know has been ghostwritten for a celebrity who wants to add ‘author’ to their resume, and then praise the celebrity for ‘writing’…?

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