Who’s reading “The Sea” now?

With interest I have been following the “scandal” around those books that missed out on making the shortlist of 6 for the 2005 Man Booker Prize, the winner of which was announced a few days back. Whenever there are bucks, sales and potentially lucrative promotional work to gained out of winning, there seems to be lots of upset folk about. Though it would be tough work, I’d love to be a guest sixth member on the panel for the judging sessions, as (I imagine) 5 passionate well-read critics go toe-to-toe about what they loved that year. The papers would like to make you believe it’s one hell of a fistfight. It seemed so after reading the following (earlier) quote from the current judging chairman: “At the beginning you have a civilised conversation and everybody likes each other. Then there’s the long list, and there’s friction and heat. Tempers begin to fray, and then there’s battle, head to head. After that there’s the short list and people walk out and so forth, when Rushdie is missed off or whatever.” But from all accounts, this year’s was a lot more straightforward. Apparently many eyebrows were raised when giants like McEwan, Coetzee and Rushdie (all in the 17 book longlist) were given the boot before the final six. Strangely enough, amongst the shortlist, the only book I’d considered buying before hearing the news was the eventual winner “The Sea” by John Banville. banville.jpg
To sooth the raging emotions of readers worldwide, they also announce a People’s Prize (in which The Sea came 5th out 6!). A couple of years ago I PROMISED I WOULD READ ALL SIX AND ANNOUNCE MY BOOKER. I think the best I have done is 3 in any given year. And this year looks no better – Apart from Ishiguro’s futurist one, there’s not much to get fired up about really. I mean Julian Barnes. Yech!! Finally a quote by one of the judging panel: “The Sea was the best book of the year. It is not going to be the most popular, and after the award was presented I was immediately bearded by an irate bookseller from one of the major chains, who told me that it was a “disgraceful” decision, and that The Sea would be impossible to sell. I don’t know if that is true, and I don’t care.”