Salman Rushdie won the Booker Prize for the first time in 1982 for his novel
When the Booker turned 25 in 1993, it was inaugurated in 1968, it sought to celebrate the occasion by choosing a Booker of Bookers: the best among all the Booker prize winners till then. It chose Midnight’s Children.
Now, on the 40th anniversary of the award yet another ‘Booker of Bookers’ is being chosen, and Midnight’s Children is tipped to win that as well.
It is the bookies’ favourite among the six books short-listed out of the entire lot of 40 winners.
The others in the running are The Ghost Road by Pat Barker (which won in 1995); Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda (1988; JM Coetzee’s Disgrace (1999); Nadine Gordimer's The Conservationist (1974) and JG Farrell’s The Siege of Krishnapur (1973).
Well known bookmakers William Hill are offering 6 to 4 odds in favour of Rushdie. The second most favoured is Pat Barker at odds of 3 to 1, followed by Peter Carey at 4 to 1, JM Coetzee at 5 to 1, Nadine Gordimer at 8 to 1 and JG Farrell at 10/1.
Bowing to current trends, and quite unlike the procedure adopted for Booker Prize decisions or for the Booker of Bookers in 1993, where only the opinion of a panel of judges counts, this Booker of Bookers winner will be chosen by the public at large.
“Through online partnerships with the national and international media, with libraries, reading groups and book retailers, votes are being solicited from the novel reading public across the globe,” said Eleanor Hutchins, member of the Booker management.
Thus even Indians interested in doing so can vote, though how votes Rushdie, a highly controversial figure in India, gets from the land of his birth remains to be seen.
Among the books, apart from Midnight's Children, JG Farrell’s The Seige of Krishnapur is also set in India, during the uprising of 1857 and is surprisingly sympathetic to ‘the native cause’. The six books span three decades, the earliest winner being JG Farrell in 1973, and the most recent, JM Coetzee in 1999.
The winner will be announced on July 10 and will get a custom made trophy.