Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Test or Taste?

On the occasion of the anouncement of the Orange prize shortlist, Kirsty Lang, chair of the judges, sums up the dubious nature of literary prizes:
Kirsty Lang ... described the shortlisting process as "arbitrary". "Once you've whittled the books down and got rid of the obvious crap it becomes a question of taste, and books affect people differently ... there are books on this list that some judges hated."

6 comments:

Frances said...

Its rather depressing when even the judges are making comments like that.Aren't they supposed to at least feign enthusiasm?

Elizabeth Baines said...

Personally, I think it's best if they're honest and admit that their choices can only ever be a matter of personal taste. I congratulate Lang for saying this.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Elizabeth--but how they could have left out Pat Barker's new book is beyond me--No accounting for taste I guess. :-)

Beau in Seattle

nmj said...

I find her honesty refreshing too. We have all, at one time, wanted to throw a prize-winning book across the room, and say, Why the hell did this win?

Elizabeth Baines said...

Exactly, Nasim

Vanessa G said...

This topic deserves a bigger space.

But she is reflecting exactly what both judges said last year at Bridport.

That the last few pieces will all be technically strong, and any could win. But rather like being faced with a bowl of perfect fruit... you eat today what appeals today, and tomorrow what appeals tomorrow. Today I fancy a banana. Tomorrow I may want grapes.

So it IS taste, but the fruit bowl contains excellent specimens of grapes, bananas, oranges, Kiwifruit, apples, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries...

and you can only eat one.


etc