How do you choose your books? I have a bunch of different methods, but I always like to peruse the long and shortlists for the Booker Prize. The Booker Prize is a prestigious literary award given to a writer who writes in English. It used to be only for members of the Commonwealth but has since been expanded to the world. Since the expansion, it’s been disproportionately dominated by Americans.
What I think is interesting is how little variety there is on the list. The same authors get nominated over and over. For example, Margaret Atwood was nominated for the Booker Prize for The Handmaid’s Tale, Cat’s Eye, Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin, and The Testaments. Now, Atwood is an amazing author, and The Blind Assassin is one of the best books I’ve ever read, but I felt The Testaments was mediocre to good. In no way was it the best book of the year. Why does the same person win over and over? Why not mix it up a bit?
On this year’s list, we have NoViolet Balwayo, who has been nominated in past, and Karen Joy Fowler, also nominated in past, Graeme Burnet, nominated in past, and Elizabeth Strout, nominated in past. In fairness, there are several new authors as well. I think, though, once you’ve won the Booker once, you should be done. Give someone else a chance.
I think I feel kind of the same way about people running for president. If you’ve been a party’s nominee and lost, you should be done. If you’ve run for your party’s nomination twice and lost, you should be done. Give someone else a chance!