You can bet 5 your Booker

It ruffles the pages of the literary world and gives the bookies something to sweat over, but is the Booker Prize, now in its 27th year. worth all the fuss? David Harris

COHS1dCI'S the CVIanCC- Bookered: James Kelman,1994's winner; the late Kingsley Amls; and a hot-headed John Berger art critic and intellectual provocateur John Berger “PlDilution ("'¥""llillll"‘9‘l m“ (WC-“m” “l ll“ Predicting the winners of literary prizes is almost as denounced the ‘deliberately publicised suspense‘ and “Cilmhimlmk‘l l'cl‘C‘lllVC'lC-“- 1‘” “Vi—'“mcm‘ Milli! thankless a task as guessing the bonus number in the announced he was donating half his £5000 prize CW”““‘”)' «‘“P'llC'E’Cd PF “‘0 “dill 1“ C “l National Lottery but. as this year‘s Booker tease rrroncy to the revolutionary Black Panther Movement SPRINT?“ “‘“Vlc “Villmcm- mm”? “‘l‘lk‘h [PC A“ reaches its inevitable anticlimax. one thing is certain: in an act of solidarity with their struggle against *lCVCl‘d’C‘l ‘1 Ll-‘l the headline writers will lind some excuse to wave capitalist business empires. Such as'.’ Booker plc! NU! *lllCC lllc curly d3.“ “109 ll‘élllt‘e 11* Pl'C-‘llillt‘m their banners. Keeping safe and quiet as a Barbara Pym novel. the 115 51”" BCHUW‘ RCPCCW W951 11'“ (i) Ill (“"1110”) Already they have been chewing over morsels of Booker avoided further scandal until l980. Then “CC” 0” “10 SClCCliOH L‘Olllllllllt‘s‘. 11ml 0'10 “00MB gossip. The judges of the 37th Booker Prize —< chaired came a feud of Burchill-Paglia proportions. when “hi” (ll‘i‘lll‘iCd 1011mm LllllllL‘J' and 'IJUW' MCDU'WM by maverick Tory MP George Walden decided that Anthony Burgess -- whose liar/lily I’mr'r'rs was up for for UN .th in the mid-80s. Last year Rabbi Julia instead ofthe usual six. only live books were worth the cup ~ rubbisbed William (iolding‘s Rites of NCUPC'ECT “"15 lll’l'rlllfll ‘0 “ml “‘4” PM Will“ shortlisting. Stranger things have happened. like in I I’ussttgc'. Golding not only won the first leg and .ll‘dgCS 5W3)?“ PCIWL‘C” ""11" “(‘“l'lghl'l‘k‘ 77’” 1975 when Tom Keneally achieved the distinction of £10,000. he won the awav match in Stockholm a few It’ll/17WShi'illld Jil'llCS Kt‘llllilll\' He“ l-ll/l’ 1/ WM? coming second in a field of two. F years later. receiving the significantly more lucrative H‘m' [1W “‘ “"9 8””? “l. S‘MU'“ 41”" “"9 PWk “h Then there‘s Martin Amis (there‘s always Martin Nobel Prize. Burgess emerged victorious on “5 "lull." 'lil‘Ck-‘l 11* lhk‘ (“d lic-‘lil'llc'll hi“ ‘l‘k'gille‘

But it‘s not always the celebs who lrnd themselves in

Amis). The half-million dollar man once again failed aggregate. however. by outliving the grand old man a minority ol one. with Nicholas Mosley storming

to reach the play-off. this time with 'l‘lte [alumni/inn. and pontilicating with impunitv on (,iolding's

He shouldn‘t be too downhearted. though. since apart 3 novelistic failings whenever an opinion was sought 0‘” l” 199' mum“ “l “‘9 C‘““““’” "l "\‘H‘m

from the fact he already has more money than his (and often when n “ugly” Massie's pseudo-serious pot-boiler ’Hir Kim (2/ /'/it'

dentist knows what to do with. there seems to be an lull/It’ll

inverse square law at work when it comes to Martin An even more eccentric show was put on in l‘lX-l.

and prizes; his only cycr Bunk-C,- nmmmmon wmc Perhaps JOhn Berger was tO suggest In a year which saw the publication ol Martin Amis‘s

for his worst novel. 'Ii'me's Arrow. the emphaSiS on winners and IOSBI'S has M’W’J‘ 1"“1 Jr (l- Bi‘llilllh [WI/"’1' M NH” 5””. llls‘ Bttt the Dre-match talk has focused on the lourth- no mace in literature, but that won’t stop HIUCIN‘d PWL‘ “l L l Wlllllllwl” ‘0 llls' Wh-

postmistress of linglish letters. Anita Brookner. for Hute/ (/1! /.(l('. The following day 's headlines centred

time-around inclusion of Eng Lit's greatest living exotic pet. Salman Rushdie. The theory is that. as

around £60,000 three times the prize

with smanpux‘ once yuu‘vc had the Book-CL you money being DUHtEO 0n year’s on judges‘ chairman Professor Richard ('obb. w ho. can't come down with it again. This so far unbucked Booker. PCB“ “1mm”? 0‘” lhs‘ “Wk” lUU'C lltll‘ H “"Wl “l tradition seems to rtrle out both the t‘atwa‘d one and Lilltpuliim ditttcttsious. proudly trumpeted his Barry Unsworth ~ although strictly sparking. ignorance of Joyce and Proust. Another victory for Unsworth has only been semi-Bookered. liver since live TV coverage of the award ceremony the desiccated librarians of middle lingland. unwarrantedly tying with Michael ()ndaatje in 1992, began the following year. the award has attracted ~ Perhaps John Berger was right to suggest the Another tradition. that of rewarding authors some would say courted controversy. ()ne of emphasis on winners and losers has no plnee in retrospectively for services rendered. partly explains 198' ‘8 hot tips. I). M. Tbotnas's Freud-and» literature. but that won't stop around moooo three the appearance of Pat Barker for the third part of a AUSCthU lill'l'itgo 77w ll'llt/t‘ Hit/Pl. W115” ilCCUSCd of times the prize money - being punted on this year‘s line World War I trilogy. and Justin Cartwright for htll'l'tm mg Wholcsillc from Attillol)’ KUZIICIZOV'S Bil/)1 Booker. Rumour has it that Rushdie himsell has put a his previous couple of novels. No fewer than eleven YUI'. b’lciltm'htlc. '10 006 8000th to cute [hilt Salmon few qtrid on Pat Barker‘s 'l‘ln' (i/ios/ lr’otttl 'l‘lrere are winning authors had reached the final furlong at least Rll-‘hdic\ Vis‘lm'iOUN “It/“ls/HTV (Wilt/H"! COItlilinCtl no sure bets. as Ron Pollard. the l.adbrokes man w ho once before their rnorrrerrt ofglory. Iris- Murdoch nrultiple echoes of Gunter Grass‘s T/R’ 'li'n Drum. and ' first emu-nut or running a hook on my Book“; taking the endurance award for six nominations in “W POOR “115' «‘lm‘t‘ PCCU'W 11 Sl‘ll’lllllt‘lll 1”"th demonstrated last year: letting prudery cloud his all‘ including um Since hu- 1978 triumph with '11“, literati. being adjudged the 'Booker of Bookers' in a } assayer's eye. he refused to nap ls'elman‘s winning Sea. The Sea. As ever. the numbers are tnade up b)‘ mum“ PR “mm in 1993' "0W" diel'cgill‘dmg ll CW” ‘0 th‘ PW” “CW h“ the obligatory outsider from the Comnmnwcunn f Reward is its own success. and. with the exception ; wouldn't allow a copy in his house. who will be played this year by Tim Winron. of heavyweights like J. M. (‘oetzee and Michael Where Berger was mistaken along with all those Recalling winners {mm the dub. bet-0m [he ()ndaatje. or l‘eatlier'weights like Keri llulrne. who annually lament the poor quality or the shortlist ceremony became a media cvcm isn‘t any. [Icw subsequent winners have gone on to be regarded as and the decline of the English novel w as in people have heard or} let alonc mud, [hc first bankable prospects. Thomas Keneally made up for believing this has anything to do w ith fl/t'ltl/l/It' .tt ; recipient from l96‘). P. H. Newby‘s .S‘unm/n'ng '1}, his previous bad luck when l‘)ts’2‘s .S't‘liim/lerk‘ Ark all. In bookies and bookshops, publishing houses and Ansrt'er For, hauled back into prim for the 35m sailed off with the booty. As with V. S. Naipaul's In (1 Hampstead homes. the}. 're not so much holding their anniversary of the prize sales- wcrc not high, In Free State in l97 l. many debated whether it was breath as clutching their bank books -\nd {Hill \ .r 1972‘ things wok a turn for the “mum when Marxist liction at all. This and charges of Holocaust racing certainty

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