Never knowingly understood
That’s ‘real’ literature for you. The kind that wins – or at least is permitted to sit on the shortlist of – the Man Booker award.
You could be forgiven for thinking the Edinburgh International Book Festival had taken over Bloody Scotland, when its director Nick Barley hosted The BIG Debate: Would you kill to win the Man Bloody Booker?
They said a lot of things in that debate, but never really got round to discussing actually killing for the award. That’s either because they are such lovely people, those crime writers, or because the prize isn’t worth it.
Willy Maley and Stuart Kelly were there to speak up for the purity of the Man Booker, while Ian Rankin and Peter James had the task of putting forward the reasons why crime fiction should be allowed to win the Man Booker as well as the next literary novel.
We started out with a minority of three in the audience, supporting the current rules for no crime on the shortlist. Once Willy and Stuart had done their jobs, even Ian and Peter were beginning to wobble. A quick poll at the end gave us twenty supporters for no crime writers for the Man Booker, meaning the against side had done the better job and were declared winners.
But it’s worth remembering that a good many crime novels have won the award already. It’s just that no one labelled them as crime. It helps if the title contains the word snow. It’s more literary, snow.
When Nick asked the panel who they think should win a crime based Man Booker they listed authors such as Ruth Rendell, John le Carré and Sophie Hannah. All good suggestions.
Post by Ann Giles