The Booker Prize Is Evil, It's Killing off Publishing; 1.in a Bloodbath: Author Julian Barnes with His Wife Pat Kavanagh, Harris's Agent 2.taking Pot Shots at the Prize: "I Can See It Probably Looks a Bit Dog-in-the-Manger as There Is No Conceivable Way I Would Ever Win It, or Should Win It," Says Robert Harris 3.speaking Out: Robert Harris with His Wife Gill, Sister of Bestselling Author Nick Hornby

The Evening Standard (London, England), October 16, 2007 | Go to article overview

The Booker Prize Is Evil, It's Killing off Publishing; 1.in a Bloodbath: Author Julian Barnes with His Wife Pat Kavanagh, Harris's Agent 2.taking Pot Shots at the Prize: "I Can See It Probably Looks a Bit Dog-in-the-Manger as There Is No Conceivable Way I Would Ever Win It, or Should Win It," Says Robert Harris 3.speaking Out: Robert Harris with His Wife Gill, Sister of Bestselling Author Nick Hornby


Byline: LUCY CAVENDISH

THE LAST time I saw Robert Harris was at a River Cafe quiz. I had triedto sneak my six-week-old baby into the charity quiz organised by PennyMortimer, wife of John Mortimer, and Gill Hornby, Harris's wife.

Anyone who was anyone in London life was thereAN Wilson, Daisy Goodwin, George Osborne, Craig Brown, Alan

Rusbridger. When I turn up at his rectory near Hungerford, 50-year-old Harrisclearly doesn't remember me from the quiz night, but his wife, who dashes inlooking very glamorous with neat clothes and coiffured blonde hair, says:"You're the lady with the baby, aren't you?" I don't suppose much slips pastHarris.

His grand study complete with its huge bookcases and a large ornate desk andoil paintings glaring at us is kitted out like a nerve centre. There arecomputers and microphones and an iPod with speakers and the telephone ringsconstantly.

Despite Harris's latent desire to run further into the countryside and do a bitof farming'"My one regret," he tells me later, "was that we didn't move further into thecountry and do the pig thing"he obviously loves being slapbang in the middle of a controversy.

And today, just as the Booker Prize winner is about to be announced, he'sdecided to lash out at the most famous literary prize of them all. "The BookerPrize is evil," he says. "No great authors in the past, from Dickens through toKipling, Waugh, Joyce, Orwell etc would have had anything to do with it.

"The Booker casts a long shadow over literary life. It has swollen like amonstrous boil obscuring anything that was ever good about it. It encouragesand fosters the difference between supposed 'literary' novels and otherperfectly good books. It reveres a certain type of novel yet great writers ofthe world may never have featured in it and lots of books that are short-listedin it disappear without a trace." But why is Harris speaking out against aworld he is so mired in? For wherever you start in London literary society youend up with Robert Harris. He snugly fits into a place where journalism ends(he used to be a journalist) and novelwriting starts. His books somehowtranscend definition. Since 1993 he has written clever page-turning massmarketfictionbooks such as Fatherland, Pompeii, Enigmathat sell by the truckload, more than 10 million copies between them and yet heis considered a highbrow sort of a man.

His agent is the legendary Pat Kavanagh, who is married to the author JulianBarnes. His wife is Gill Hornby, sister of Nick Hornby. His film agent is themassively powerful Anthony Jones.

His friends include Jeremy Paxman, Peter Mandelson and Tory MP Andrew Mitchell.He used to be pretty close to the Blairs until they fell out over the secondsacking of Peter Mandelson, an act Harris spoke out against as being "a brutalact committed with extraordinary indifference".

Yet Harris says he wants to speak out against the Booker because he feels sostrongly about it. "I can see it probably looks a bit dog-in-the-manger asthere is no conceivable way I would ever win it, or should win it," he says,"but that's not why I am saying this. The Booker ruins people's lives. It doesa disservice to the public and it is damaging to authors and the industry,especially this hateful, ghastly long list. Authors feel their book has failedeven before it's been published if it is not selected. They are forced byagents and publicists to write a 'Booker-winning' novel when most of thosenovels are grim and unreadable and utterly off-putting for many readers." HESAYS that when the prize first started it was probably to help bring the workof not so well known authors into the public realm. "I can see for a book likeYann Martel's Life of Pi it is a good thing, but over the past five or so yearsthe judges have kowtowed to the worst sort of political correctness. It's hardto think of anyone who is non-PC or doesn't deal with the concerns of thesexual minority or colonial guilt who could possibly make it on to the list. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Booker Prize Is Evil, It's Killing off Publishing; 1.in a Bloodbath: Author Julian Barnes with His Wife Pat Kavanagh, Harris's Agent 2.taking Pot Shots at the Prize: "I Can See It Probably Looks a Bit Dog-in-the-Manger as There Is No Conceivable Way I Would Ever Win It, or Should Win It," Says Robert Harris 3.speaking Out: Robert Harris with His Wife Gill, Sister of Bestselling Author Nick Hornby
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.