Friday, October 05, 2007
What are the qualities that make a prize-winning novel? Having read more than two dozen such novels in my Lincoln Park Book Group which I have attended regularly for more than nine years I pondered this question after our meeting last night. We were discussing the novel, The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai, which won the Man Booker Prize in 2006. The general reaction of our reading group was summed up in the quizzical expression on the face of one of us as if to say: this book won the Booker prize? While our discussion uncovered some redeeming features in Desai's novel, I found these features far outweighed by the problems in the novel. The lack of characters, while interesting enough, that I cared about topped my list. But as far as prize winners go this book must have had little competition in 2006 because it was not in the same stratosphere as former winners like Midnight's Children or The Sea, The Sea. This is not the first time that I've encountered an unevenness in the choice of an award winning novel. Each time the experience only makes me more curious about the selection process and question whether the quality of the writing is ever the main criteria...
The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai. Grove Press, New York (2006)