Posted by: Lisa Hill | January 8, 2009

The Complete Booker Challenge – progress so far

Cross-posted from The Complete Booker. 

Ok, I’ve finished posts of 17 Booker Prize winners: all 15 Bookers I’d read and journalled prior to joining this Challenge, and 2 that I read in 2008, In a Free State and Rites of Passage. Posts from me are going to slow down from now on!

Of the 24 titles remaining, I have 10 on my TBR: The Elected Member; G; The Conservationist; Saville; Offshore; The Remains of the Day; The Famished Road; The English Patient; True History of the Kelly Gang; and The Inheritance of Loss. I think I might start with The Elected Member and fill in gaps chronologically from there onward.

There are 5 to acquire from somewhere: Midnight’s Children; The Old Devils; How Late it Was, How Late; The Gathering; and The White Tiger. I’d like to buy these as First Editions, to add to my collection.

And then I shall decide what to do about the remaining 8 that I have read but not journalled, mostly because I read them before I started keeping a reading journal in 1997. (Sometimes I finish reading a book late at night, start another, and forget to journal the finished one. This, I think is what happened with Disgrace which I read in 1999, and with The Line of Beauty in 2004.) Will I re-read them? Maybe… there’s a few others on my TBR to deal with!
Lisa Hill,  9.1.2009
PS To see all my posts on the Complete Booker site, scroll down to ‘Lisa’ from the list of Labels on the RHS, or use these links:
1969 Something to Answer For   by P.H.Newby
1971 In A Free State by V.S.Naipaul
1973 The Siege of Krishnapur by J.G. Farrell
1975 Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
1978 The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch
1980 Rites of Passage by William Golding
1983 Life and Times of Michael K by J.M.Coetzee
1984 Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner
1993 Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle
1995 The Ghost Road by Pat Barker
1996 Last Orders by Graham Swift
1997 The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
1998 Amsterdam by Ian McEwan
2000 The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
2002 Life of Pi by Yann Martel
2003 Vernon God Little by D.B.C. Pierre
2005 The Sea by John Banville


  1. Welcome to the Booker challenge! You’ve read a similar number to me. Which has been your favourite so far?

    I’m trying to read all the short listed ones too, so I’ve got quite a lot to get through!

    My favourite winner was Life of Pi, but I think I’ve still got some of the best ones left.

    Good luck with the challenge, and the collection!



    • I’ve just had a quick look at *your* blog and lo! another challenge! The Victorian Challenge looks like a great idea, but I think (since I’m probably a bit older than you) I’ve already read many of the books from that era and those I haven’t are obscure and hard to find.
      My favourite Booker? Much too hard to choose…so I’ll just say The Remains of the Day because that’s the most recent.
      I’ve read (but not yet blogged) some of the shortlist books and will probably chase up some more when I’ve finished all the winners.


  2. What a great idea! I just did a quick check and discovered I have read 15 of the list, without even knowing about the challenge.

    I have set myself another challenge on my blog…

    As for the best Booker I’ve read…Kelman’s How Late it was, How Late was a literary wonder, while Midnight’s CHildren I thought was a deserved winnner of the Booker of Bookers.

    I have a question though.

    What is the least deserving Booker winner. My vote goes to Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda. I think Carey is an amazing writer but that novel was a pretender.


    • Hello Erez, thanks for joining in the conversation:)
      I haven’t got a copy of Kelman’s How Late it was, How Late yet, but am encouraged to keep looking by your recommendation.
      I rather liked Oscar and Lucinda – I liked the quirkiness of it.


  3. Since posting yesterday’s comment I have given the Least Bookerish of the Bookers Award some more thought and…although I felt Oscar & Lucinda was a weak book (Carey really hit his straps with My Life as a Fake. You could feel his genius swell as you turned the leaves), I realised, as if waking from a nightmare, there was a less deserving winner.

    Amsterdam by that dolt McKewan. What pap! What drivel! What self indulgent claptrap!

    I realise I am alone in this. And I have to wonder if this is not a contemporary case of the emperor’s new clothes.


    • I’m not entirely sure that I want to join in choosing the ‘worst Booker’… it seems a little churlish, Erez. I’m not afraid to criticique a book if I don’t think it’s any good, but I don’t want to go *looking for* books to criticise.
      And as for Amsterdam, it has my favourite quotation about the dumbing-down of newspapers:

      ” The following day the editor presided over a subdued meeting with his senior staff. …
      ‘It’s time we ran more regular columns. They’re cheap, and everyone else is doing them. You know, we hire someone of low to medium intelligence, possibly female, to write about, well, nothing much. You’ve seen the sort of thing. Goes to a party and can’t remember someone’s name. Twelve hundred words.’
      ‘Sort of navel gazing,’ Jeremy Ball suggested.
      ‘Not quite. Gazing is too intellectual. More like navel chat.’
      ‘Can’t work her video recorder. Is my bum too big?’ Lettice supplied helpfully.
      ‘That’s good. Keep ‘em coming.’ The editor wiggled and paddled his fingers in the air to draw out their ideas.
      ‘Er, buying a guinea pig.’
      ‘His hangover.’
      ‘Her first grey pubic hair.’
      ‘Always gets the supermarket trolley with the wobbly wheel.’
      ‘Excellent. I like it. Harvey? Grant?’
      ‘Um, always losing biros. Where do they go?’
      ‘’Ehm, canna keep his tongue out of the wee hole in his tooth.’
      ‘Brilliant’, Frank said. ‘Thank you everyone. We’ll continue this tomorrow.’ ”

      Amsterdam, by Ian McEwan, pp 129-130.


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