The Booker Prize Announcement

Last night the Booker Prize was awarded to Julian Barnes for Sense of an Ending and although I didn’t enjoy it I was pleased because I thought it was the most deserving book on the shortlist.

The Sense of an Ending

In the run up to the prize announcement I normally do a prediction post, but as you’ve probably seen there has been a lot of debate about the Booker judges this year and with their comments about wanting a readable book that would “zip-along” I honestly had no idea which book they’d pick. It was good to see that they chose the most literary book on the short list and I hope next year’s prize courts less controversy.

Independent Alliance Man Booker Prize Party

Last night I was lucky enough to attend a Booker Prize party organised by four of the publishers on the short list (Atlantic, Canongate, Serpent’s Tail and Granta). It was quite a daunting experience as I knew no-one there. The situation was made harder by the fact that everyone else seemed to know each other, but after nearly bolting for the door I summoned up the courage to speak to people and had a fantastic evening.

I spoke to the editor of Half Blood Blues, several publishers and I had a very interesting conversation with someone from a marketing agency about blogs, social media and viral marketing. As the prize announcement drew nearer I spoke to Carol Birch’s son and was surprised to discover that short listed authors only get to take one guest along with them to the official prize giving ceremony.

Live Booker coverage was broadcast to the party on a big screen and everyone watched nervously. A few people booed Stella Rimington’s speech and there was quite a bit of heckling – everyone was far better behaved at the real Booker announcement! When Julian Barnes was declared the winner the entire room seemed to sigh in unison. There was no booing (or clapping) just a weird feeling of sadness from everyone in the room. After the news had sunk in we got back to drinking and talking. It was a bit strange to have a party without the authors we were celebrating, but everyone had a fantastic time.

I look forward to seeing which books are selected for the Booker next year and will be enjoying a bit more random reading over the next few months.


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  1. Mystica says:

    The cover seems oddly appropriate to the title!

    1. Jackie says:

      Mystica, The cover is very well designed. Barnes even thanked his book designer in his Booker speech – something that is apparently not done very often.

  2. Wow Jackie, what an experience! I must admit I’d be daunted walking into a roomful of strangers too, well done for making the most of it.

    It’s interesting that such controversial long and shortlists produced such an uncontroversial winner. It’s almost as if the media were gearing up to slate the winner and have had their thunder stolen today (tee-hee). I only read Snowdrops and was pretty sure it wouldn’t win though I enjoyed it. I’ll read the winner one day no doubt.

    1. Jackie says:

      Liz, The papers still seem to be slating the prize today, despite the fact they picked a good winner. Hopefully the storm will pass soon and we can get back to discussing the wonderful books published this year :-)

  3. Steph says:

    I have only read one book by Julian Barnes (not this one!) and I really loved it, so I am sure this was a book well-deserving of the Booker prize! Barnes is such a skilled writer that I am going to try my best to read his entire collection… though I know such a task will take me MANY years!

    1. Jackie says:

      Steph, I loved Arthur and George, but this book is very different. I’m sure I’ll enjoy some of his other books (10 1/2 Chapters and Flaubert’s Parrot are high on my list) I look forward to seeing what you think of his back catologue.

  4. Laura T says:

    I was pleased with the result as well – odd though after all the fuss about choosing different and avant-garde books. I haven’t read the Barnes yet, but I’m looking forward to it – just glad that Jamrach’s Menagerie or Pigeon English didn’t win…

    1. Jackie says:

      Laura, After speaking to Carol Birch’s lovely son I was almost rooting for her to win, but I can imagine the news articles if Snowdrops had won. Let’s be glad we were saved from reading them :-) .

  5. Leela Soma says:

    Well done Jackie hobnobbing with the litearti! Glad you liked the winner. I’ve not read any yet, so will plump for the winner when I get time. So is your blog going to become a book? I enjoyed reading about your experience at the party.

    1. Jackie says:

      Leela, Thank you for the kind words, but I have no desire to write a book and I don’t think people would buy a book filled with book reviews. I’m glad you enjoyed reading my post – hopefully there will be many more to come. :-)

  6. Sandy says:

    Well, that would be a fun way to celebrate! I know it is intimidating to walk into a party knowing not a soul, but you really know your stuff and would certainly be the best person I know to hold their own at a Booker party! I have no opinion on the winner. I am a Booker loser, and take my cues from you mostly. And if you didn’t like it…

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, Knowing a lot about the Booker certainly helped me yesterday – I think I may well have run away if I hadn’t felt comfortable with the subject. Thanks for the kind words :-)

  7. pretty predictable winner although not always a bad thing.

    1. Jackie says:

      Damned Conjuror, I think predictable is good for the winner, but bad at the long listing stage :-)

  8. Stephanie says:

    It sounds like you had a great night. How cool! I have given up caring about the Booker, at least for the past two years, because nothing has really caught my eye. I doubt I’ll read this one.

    1. Jackie says:

      Stephanie, Sometimes I wonder why I care about the Booker, but I have read some amazing books thanks to it in the past. Hopefully I’ll be rewarded with many more great reads next year.

  9. So nice that you were invited to this! It wasn’t quite the real thing, but close enough with all these publishing people there.

    You can relax and read a few books for fun now.

    1. Jackie says:

      Judith, It is lovely that bloggers get invited to these things. I hope you get to go to similar events sometime soon :-)

      1. It certainly is! There is a spring release presentation by one of the publishers here soon and I put my name down for it. They’ll be drawing two names soon (not bloggers, but readers in general) and who knows, would love to be one of them.

  10. Shan says:

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful night! I haven’t read any of the books on the list this year, though I do have Patrick DeWitt on my shelf to read next, and will be getting Esi Edugyan’s book soon (they’re nominated for all 3 major awards here in Canada.) I was rooting for them just out of pride for my country, but I’ll trust the judges did their job picking a good winner.

    1. Jackie says:

      Shan, Canada does produce some of the best literature in the world so you have good reason to be proud :-) I look forward to investigaing a few of the Giller winners soon.

  11. Amy says:

    I think it’s fantastic you were invited to this Booker Prize Party and I’m impressed and proud of you for attending and then staying despite feeling slightly out of your comfort zone. I probably would have chickened out.

    It sounds like a very interesting experience especially while watching the award coverage…I cannot believe people heckled and some booed SHeila Remington’s speech! wow! It also sounds like you had some interesting conversations.

    I made sure I came by to see what you thought about the Booker winner since I couldn’t remember your opinion of his book from back when you posted about it. It’s pretty cool that you thought it was the most deserving book on the list, good job, Jackie!

    1. Jackie says:

      Amy, Thank you for the lovely comment. It is nice to know that what I write is appreiciated :-)

  12. Amused says:

    Wow, that’s so cool that you got to go to that event! It sounds like you really made the most of it.

    1. Jackie says:

      Amused, I’m so pleased it turned out well – I was so nervous when I walked in, but a glass of wine helped me out :-)

  13. Kailana says:

    I actually wasn’t surprised this book won. I haven’t read it yet, but it just seemed likely. :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Kailana, Normally I don’t like it when the favourite wins, but in this case it was the right choice.

  14. I’m thrilled Barnes won, as I loved the book. (On a side note–while I always disliked the UK cover, I am quite pleased with the US cover.) The party sounds like so much fun (though, like you, I might have been tempted to run at first!) Enjoy your months of leisurely reading too!

    1. Jackie says:

      Carrie, Thanks. Hopefully I’ll find a lot of enjoyable reads in the coming months :-)

  15. The Booker’s just passed me by this year, which is a little disappointing. I do look forward to reading this book, despite the mixed reviews I’ve read of it, and I am glad to hear you say it’s the most deserving on the shortlist. That said though, how many books really belonged on the shortlist? I don’t know… I think it’s just the cynic in me.

    The event sounds fantastic though – lucky you (she says, with a tinge of envy).

  16. JoV says:

    I’ve been away, but that’s certainly a piece of good news, it’s time Barnes got the prize after so many shortlisting. There is only so many disappointments one can take in life! ;)

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