19 March 2009

The agony of shortlists...

I find the announcement of literary awards shortlists quite stressful. One could argue I am already a relatively anxious person and thus during this period I feel remarkably unhinged. This is basically what goes through my head when reading a shortlist:

Oh yeah, that was good... WHAT? That was TERRIBLE!... What the hell was that? Do I know that book?... Oh I never got around to reading that DAMMIT... Seriously, what is that title? Should I ask? Has everyone else read it? Will they judge me?... Oh, I LOVED that! I want that to win.... Unless I want that random title to win. It's probably going to win and everyone will know I am TOTALLY USELESS for not having even HEARD of it. I want to kill myself.

See? Stressful.

The Man Booker International shortlist has just been announced. It's different from the Man Booker in that it is only awarded every two years and is based on a body of work rather than a single title (like the Nobel Prize for Literature). Publishers cannot nominate books, the judges compile their own lists of contenders. Again, it was hardly a calm experience for me:

Peter Carey: Sigh, oh I suppose. Yes, ok. But he's not my favourite. Who else is on here?

Evan S Connell: I thought he was dead.

Mahasweta Devi: Ack. No idea who she is.

E.L. Doctorow: Man, that book about the American Civil War was BORING.

James Kelman: Hmmm ok.

Mario Vargas Llosa: He's from Peru. I need to get there. The Bad Girl was a good read.

Arnost Lustig: Ack. Second author I don't know. I am a MORON.

Alice Munro: No. I don't like you.

V.S. Naipaul: YAY! I approve.

Joyce Carol Oates: What the? NO. If she wins I will set fire to myself.

Antonio Tabucchi: Meh.

Ngugi Wa Thiong'o: Well, if I could read Gikuyu I would have read some of his stuff. I can only speak English, I'm pathetic. I bet I would be a better person if I could speak an African language. Hah, and I would have it ALL OVER Earhart, she only speaks French.

Dubravka Ugresic: Third author I do not know. I am a DISGRACE.

Ludmila Ulitskaya: Wait, did she write a book with her name as the title? CONCEITED! No, wait, that was DBC Pierre who wrote Ludmila's Broken English. HE should be on the list. Vernon God Little was GENIUS.

So, I think I want DBC Pierre to win. He's not nominated and he's only written two books, not really enough to be considered a 'body of work'. But that's who I'm cheering on.
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