Friday, September 09, 2005

"Beauty" before age: The Man Booker shortlist

By now everyone knows that Rushdie, McEwan, and Coetzee are out of the Booker shortlist. Those who've made the cut are John Banville, Julian Barnes, Sebastian Barry, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ali Smith, and Zadie Smith.

The Guardian has published a comment ruing McEwan's non-selection:

Saturday, McEwan's tale of an extraordinary day in the life of brain surgeon Henry Perowne, has widely been seen as a shoo-in for the shortlist from the date of its publication. And he was joint favourite with Julian Barnes at the longlist stage to take home the gong for the second time. Instead, he has become the shortlist's most high-profile casualty - although with previous winners Salman Rushdie and JM Coetzee also failing to make the cut, he is in very good company.

The Independent has focused on Zadie Smith in its report on the Booker shortlist:

'Beauty' before age: Zadie Smith beats veteran authors to a place on the Man Booker shortlist

The high-flying young novelist Zadie Smith made it through to the final round of the £50,000 Man Booker Prize for fiction while heavyweight rivals including previous winners - Salman Rushdie, J M Coetzee and Ian McEwan - were felled yesterday.

"...Zadie Smith was the final name on the list with her third novel, On Beauty. At 29, she is the youngest of the six by some margin. She has been living and working in America and, in an interview with the latest New Yorker magazine, condemns British culture and its "general stupidity, madness, vulgarity" as "disgusting".

Though most are betting on Barnes, I'm not sure about anything now. As Naipaul had said maybe the weirdest book will win. Zadie Smith, with her debut novel White Teeth, had been hailed as the new Rushdie. Now, it seems she has really become one.

The Guardian comment further talks about Zadie's grand entry: Unpublished at the time of the longlist announcement, it came out last week and has so far received mixed reviews; while the Observer called it "exceptionally accomplished", Peter Kemp, the Sunday Times' chief fiction reviewer instead described it as "inconsequential" and "self-indulgent".

The Independent has also published a Salman Rushdie interview with Boyd Tonkin. Apart from discussing the characters and the setting of the novel, the interview also looks at some interesting side issues such as this one:

Although Rushdie does not consider himself "part of the Muslim community", Shalimar the Clown pays a warmly eloquent tribute to the tolerant, eclectic Islam of Kashmir, the land and the faith of his grandparents. They came from that now poisoned Eden of snow-shrouded summits and flower-filled orchards, where veil-free Muslims worshipped saints (a virtual "polytheism" that shocked incoming jihadis) and Hindu Brahmins eagerly scoffed meat ("and lots of it"). As a child in Bombay, Rushdie adored his Kashmiri grandfather, who was "a devout Muslim. He had performed the Haj to Mecca. He said his prayers five times a day every day of his life. I was very close to him and he was for me a kind of model of tolerance and open-mindedness and civil discourse" - even to such a wrangling, irreverent kid. "My relationship to him was one in which everything was up for discussion, from the existence of God downwards. And that Muslim culture, of which he was a product and a very fine example, is the Muslim culture I grew up in."

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