Not sure how many of you out there are interested in literary prizes, but this is one of my yearly favorites! Check out the shortlist for the 2012 Man Booker Prize, a literary award given out each year for the best novel written in English by a citizen of the British Commonwealth (including Ireland and Zimbabwe). Not only is this prize highly regarded in the (relatively insular) literary establishment, it is also extremely popular in the reading world at large, often bringing with it international fame and fortune for its winner. (Have you ever heard of Salman Rushdie, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan, or Margaret Atwood? All of these amazing authors are past winners of the Booker Prize (in 1981, 1989, and 1998, and 2000, respectively). You’ve probably read a Booker winner without even knowing it.)
Check out this year’s shortlist of finalists, here: http://themanbookerprize.com/feature/examining-books-behind-2012-man-booker-prize-shortlist
Also, check out this neat link from The Guardian that shows each of the finalists’ cover art: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/gallery/2012/sep/11/man-booker-prize-2012-shortlist
To see a comprehensive list of past winners, check out this timeline. http://www.themanbookerprize.com/timeline (Definitely some great names (including Nobel Laureates) in there!)
Also, just as a final note, due to the skyrocketing popularity of the literary fields of contemporary anglophone literature, post-colonial literature, and world literature, Booker Prize-winning novels are increasingly being found on English class syllabi. If you like what you see in this year’s finalists, consider reading further down the list of past winners into the shortlisted and longlisted novels, and consider writing final papers on novels in these lists. If the current trends continue, these novels (and the literary criticism that accompanies them) will eventually pop up on your radar – either on bestseller lists, bookshop shelves, or in the classroom – so they are definitely great choices for final papers!
Happy reading and writing!