The Man Booker Prize reminds us that fiction fosters an understanding of ourselves
From this perspective – encouraging people to read – the Booker is an unalloyed success (compare with the Turner Prize: does its existence provoke you to visit the Tate? Me neither). The call to a book must work even at a subliminal level, hence the fact that I did, eventually, read the novel that won last year.
My favourite author won the Booker only once. Iris Murdoch took the award in 1978, for The Sea, The Sea, a novel – by definition, a fiction – in which the central character tells lies to himself about the nature of his love. (Murdoch also appears – in suitably spectral form – on the longlist of books from “The Missing Booker”, held in 2010 to make up for the fact that no prize was awarded in 1970.)
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