It was a gradual and growing idea idea: I thought one of my bookselling co-workers had said that he had read Man-Booker prize winners, and as I saw copies of the winners flow in and out of the store inventory, I began to fondle them and set them aside. As I considered it, it seemed like more and more of a good idea.
Several reasons come to mind:
1. My love of British literature: I am curious about what had been proclaimed the best of British (and Commonwealth) literature in the second half of the twentieth century and into the new millennium.
2. As a citizen of a Commonwealth country, I was interested in the works of South Africa’s prizewinning authors, J.M. Coetzee and Nadine Gordimer.
3. A chance to read fiction from all over the world (The old empire: New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, India, Egypt etc.)
4. The Man-Booker Prize is an easier target than the Nobel Prize winners, which are received for a consistent work contribution. This would be difficult to choose one work for which these authors were known.
5. I am an Anglophile. I was more interested in Booker prizewinners than Pulitzer prizewinners.
6. It has only been given since 1969: much shorter a lineage than the Pulitzer or the Nobel Prizes.
So far I have noticed two emphases: India and the ocean. Some might suggest the lack of plot development. I plan to document any other observations and links I find. Hopefully I shall finish all 41 books by the end of September when the shortlist for 2008 is released. I would like to have identified similarities in past winners and try and predict this year’s winner, though this is difficult as the committee changes yearly. Bon voyage!