The winner of the Man Booker Prize has been announced. Outsider Kiran Desai won with her book about 'globalisation, multiculturalism, inequality and the different forms of love'. So something nice and cutting edge then. I'm sure there are a plethora of opinions about this, most of them greaty more qualified that my own most likely. It seems that the Man Booker has not been particularly brave with its selections since D.B.C. Pierre's VERNON GOD LITTLE won (a bastardly brilliant book with style, panache, some damn relevant content, and most of all: balls). Every winner since has seemed a little flavourless to me. Perhaps that comes from reading too much genre fiction, where there is a great deal of plot movement and action. Not that literary fiction and action can't be combined, of course—but I'm talking largely about the Booker lists of recent times. And that is not to say I cannot enjoy literary fiction for its own merits. There have been some fabulous titles I've read over the last few months: Ian McEwan's SATURDAY, Ali Smith's THE ACCIDENTAL, James Meek's THE PEOPLE'S ACT OF LOVE. All very highly recommended. There has generally been a response to most recent Booker lists that there is too much 'blandness'. These books mentioned here can certainly not be accused of that.
It seems as if there is still a taste for books on multiculturalism with the Booker judges, which may or may not have moved on since Salman Rushdie et al pioneered that area a couple of decades ago. Interestingly, to my knowledge, you don't see all that much multiculturalism tackled in SF or fantasy (magic realists aside). Not that I can think of off the top of my head. Anyone else have any clues? Genre multiculturalism? (And not multi-species stuff...) I know that Ian McDonald's dizzying and mighty RIVER OF GODS is set in a future India, but it wasn't specifically about multiculturalism, and which wasn't the point. Moreover, has any SF novel been picked out for good reviews/awards because of this fact? I'm interested because the thing about SF is that it is meant to shine a light on ourselves in a way that other fictions simply cannot. It seems to be literary fiction that monopolises this rather large subject.
Marco and I were talking about the Booker this morning, and got onto the subject of David Mitchell. He is one of the shining beacons on Booker shortlists of recent years. I wonder if it is his SF content that denies him from winning one of the grandest of prizes? Incidentally, Mitchell used to be an SF buyer in a bookstore, and isn't ashamed to call a lot of his fiction SF - hurrah! Marco speaks very highly of his books. Once the Ballard phase passes, I shall hit him up on Amazon…