Thursday, May 08, 2008

Best Booker Winner Ever?

Abe Books polled over 700 of its U.K. customers and compiled this list as the all-time best Booker prize winners:
1) Life of Pi by Yann Martel (12.4%)

2) Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (10.5%)

3) The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (8.8%)

4) The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (8.5%)

5) The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (6.9%)

6) The Bone People by Keri Hulme (5.5%)

7) Possession by AS Byatt (5.4%)

8) The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (5.2%)

9) Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee (4%)

10) The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey (3.3%)
I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't read a single one of these although I own Life of Pi, Possession, and The Blind Assassin. I even held a copy of Disgrace in my hands this morning and could have had the hard cover copy for all of $2 but put it back on the shelf because I found my one Coetzee reading experience to be such a distasteful one. Life of Pi is in my TBR stack at the moment but the other two have been hiding out somewhere on my bookshelves for a long, long time.

I found the list interesting...but humbling, as usual.

22 comments:

  1. I've read six, and I'd go with Remains of the Day as number one! I wonder if Life of Pi is number one, because it was an easier read than some of the other Bookers, so more people have read it...

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  2. I suspect Eva is right - Life of Pi is the most populist of that list and still fairly recent. And though it's definitely an excellent book, and highly enjoyable, it isn't the exquisite work that several of the others are. I just finished Possession, so it's most fresh in my mind, and there's no comparison.

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  3. Two out of ten for me. The God of Small Thing and The Blind Assassin :).

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  4. I thought the Life of Pi was brilliant -- and worth reading with a friend, just for the conversations you can have after you both finish. The English Patient was also very good. What was your other Coetzee experience?

    I really enjoy your blog, by the way -- it's nice to find someone who reads even more than I do, and who writes about it so well. Thanks.

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  5. I've circled the Carey book dozens of times...guess Mr. Bybee's love of reading about outlaws has rubbed off onto me.
    The Bone People is on my TBR, reproaching me with its spine.

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  6. I haven't read any of these either, and I'm so glad that you admitted that you hadn't either. It makes me feel better. :) I have Blind Assassin and will definitely read it. I would like to read several of the others but just haven't gotten around to it.

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  7. I've only read 4 of these The Life of Pi, The God of Small Things, The Bone People, and Possession. I enjoyed them all, but wasn't as fond of The Life of Pi as most people seem to be.

    I really do want to read The Remains of the Day as well.

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  8. Me too - 4 out of 5 - Midnights' Children, English Patient, The Blind Assassin and Disgrace.

    I liked all I've read so far, but getting through Midnight's Children was tough.

    What other Coetzee book did you read which turned you off, Sam? Disgrace is pretty short anyway, maybe give it a chance?

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  9. I think you're probably right, Eva, about "Life of Pi." I'm going to read it one day if it ever makes it to the top of my stack but I find it hard to believe that it really deserves the number one ranking.

    Wow...six on the list...impressive.

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  10. Mella, I have been carrying "Possession" around for a while and it still sits on my shelves but I just have never gotten around to reading the thing. I don't know why that is. Sounds like you enjoyed it a lot, and that kind of feedback might get me to finally read it.

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  11. Monster (that doesn't feel right but I didn't want to call you paper bag, either), "The Blind Assassin" sort of intimidates me at the moment because it seems to be the kind of book that demands a whole lot of attention. I've gotten into the habit of reading six or eight books at a time and I wonder if that one would work that way or if it needs to be read singly...maybe later on.

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  12. RPL, I've seen some truly rave reviews of "Life of Pi" and that's why I finally bought a copy for myself. That was a few months ago, however...

    My one experience with Coetzee was his latest book, "Diary of a Bad Year," a book that seemed a complete waste of time to me. It was just a thinly veiled excused to rant about current world politics, especially those of the U.S., and I found it to be shallow and pretentious at the same time. The structure of the book (each page divided into three separate narrative sections) was too clever for its own good and never worked for me.

    It ticked me off to the extent that when I see a Coetzee book on the shelves I don't bother to pick it up, usually. I've heard good things about the man but I don't want to be preached at in a novel...a little subtlety goes a long way but a slap in the head does not work.

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  13. Bybee, I've had on eye on both those you mentioned, too, but I don't own them. I wish I had the time to actually read all the books that catch my eye. :-)

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  14. Lisa, every time I see one of these lists it just makes me realize that despite all the time I spend reading I have only scratched the surface...gotta read faster. :-)

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  15. Four of the top ten is a nice percentage, Jenclair. I don't usually work form lists of winners but I'm tempted at times to pick a list and read from it for a while. My problem is that I don't have a set plan (maybe that's good, I don't know) and one book just seems to lead to another depending on my mood and whatever subject I'm interested in most at the moment it's time to choose a new book.

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  16. Rushdie does demand a lot of his reader's, doesn't he, aloi?

    I mentioned Coetzee, and my experience with him, in a comment up above. Every once in a while a writer will do something that irritates me this way and I find it hard to enjoy other books by them for a long time, if ever again. It's hard to explain why that happens or what will trigger the reaction.

    I've recently had a similar reaction to Jane Smiley after seeing and hearing some of the political statements she's been making. I find it hard to separate the author from the book when they push me over my "tipping point."

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  17. I've read The English Patient, The Remains of the Day, and Disgrace. Didn't like The English Patient, loved The Remains of the Day, and felt neutral about Disgrace. I love all of Kazuo Ishiguro's books, particularly The Unconsoled. I own Midnight's Children, but never made it past the first couple of chapters. I agree that these lists make me wonder how I missed so many of the list when I own thousands of books and have read hundreds more than I own.

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  18. Syndi, I have to believe that the more we read, the more we are aware of all the titles we can't work into the process. "Ignorance is bliss."

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  19. I too had a distasteful Coetzee experience! I'm glad I'm not the only one. Disgrace just sounded way too dreary for me (as do many award-winners, actually!).

    I'd really recommend Remains of the Day. The English Patient was good (though I'm not a big fan of all the flashbacking and it dragged a bit). I'm trying a different Peter Carey book (Theft) before I think about the Kelly Gang.

    You're right, Sam, we'll never read 'em all! It's quite a daunting thought. But we can keep trying...

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  20. "Remains of the Day," it is. Thanks for the recommendation. I do plan to keep trying. :-)

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  21. late with this comment, but late to this blog.

    prize lists are always such great fodder for discussion. i have read the life of pi, and it has such an irritatingly misjudged moment in its ending sequence that i can't think of the book without distaste. the rest of it is fine, really, and it can't have bothered many other people if it was on top of the list. I just picked up possession at a salvation army yesterday and have read the blind assassin and disgrace, both of which i enjoyed.

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  22. Hi, Estelle. I still haven't gotten around to "Pi" and, in fact, I'm further behind on my reading than when I made this post. Now you really have me curious about the segment of the book you're talking about.

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