It’s Booker Prize time again. The short list has already been published some time ago, at the beginning of September. I’m not really much into contemporary fiction but last year, I decided to read one of the short listed books. I settled on Linda Grant’s “The Clothes on Their Backs”, because it sounded interesting and also, yes I admit it, I liked the cover. And I liked the book as well, as it turned out. It didn’t win though, the prize went to Aravind Adiga’s “The White Tiger”. So this year, I decided to continue the “tradition” and read another short listed book. The choice was easy this time, as the author of my of my favourite books is listed as well – A. S. Byatt’s “The Children’s Book”.
In the early 1990s, I came across her then latest novel “Possession”. I read it in German back then and it fascinated me, even though I found it quite difficult and not easy to read, and it has never entirely left my mind. Many years later, I came across it again. Last year, to be precice. I visited the London Library on a guided tour and there were told about the description of the library in Byatt’s novel. So I went to the next book shop, bought a copy of the novel and started reading it again. I was even more fascinated than the first time and, after having studied English literature, amongst others, and become even more interested in the Victorian era, in the mean time, finding it much easier and much more rewarding. The novel has actually won the Booker Prize in 1990. If Byatt was to win it again this year, she would be the first woman to win the prize twice.
At the BBC website, extracts from the books and interviews with the authors can be listened to. There’s also some information about the books and authors. Although not entirely accurate, as “Possession” is not really set in the Victorian era but in the late 1980s, where a bunch of academics are trying to solve the mystery of a personal correspondence of a famous Victorian poet.
The winner of the Booker Prize will be announced next week, 6 October. In the mean time, I’m enjoying reading Byatt’s book – which actually is set in the late Victorian era. And it also features a well known London institution, the then newly built Victoria & Albert Museum in Kensington.