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Monday, 30 September, 2002, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Booker 'avoids important authors'
Will Self
Will Self was on the long list for this year's Booker
The Booker Prize is bland and has ignored the most influential novelists in modern UK society, according to writer Will Self.

Self said there were very few Booker winners from the last 25 years that have "in any way rocked society".

Authors like Martin Amis and JG Ballard had only been nominated once while winners were not chosen if they were challenging, Self told BBC News Online.

Martin Amis
Martin Amis: Nominated once, in 1991
He even said he was "disappointed" that his new novel Dorian was long-listed for this year's 50,000 prize because he had no respect for the award.

The Booker is the Pets Win Prizes of literature, he said, referring to the BBC televison programme.

Carol Shields and William Trevor head the shortlist for the 2002 Booker Prize, which includes writers Yann Martel, Rohinton Mistry, Sarah Waters and Tim Winton.

"It pushes the writer and the audience of the books into an uncomfortable contortion and it introduces a kind of nerdy, list-making component to the whole business," he said.

"From the point of view of being the author, it is unseemly."

He said "nothing would delight me more" than to win plaudits in an awards ceremony. "But on the other hand, maybe not."

Self's new novel is an "adaptation" of Oscar Wilde's classic The Picture of Dorian Gray, in which he brings the story to an Aids and drug-filled modern era.

Prejudice

It was included on the long list of 20 books, but did not make it to the shortlist of six.

Self said the winners were usually chosen because they were acceptable to a mass of people and confirmed prejudices rather than challenging them.

William Trevor
William Trevor is favourite for this year's Booker
"It's very difficult to look back at the Booker over the last 20 to 25 years and see a lot of books there that have in any way rocked society - from Martin Amis' Money to Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting," he said.

"The books that are really influential in that way haven't been there.

"Ballard's got as far as the shortlist. I think Amis has once. Irvine Welsh is an obvious example.

"Kelman's an exception - he picked it up for How Late It Was, How Late."

Coverage of the 2002 Booker Prize from BBC News Online and BBCi Arts


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09 Sep 02 | Entertainment
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