I was devastated to see I hadn’t made the long list for the 2019 Booker prize. If your reading is limited to 280 characters let me enlighten you on this award. The Booker is for novels; a novel is around 15,151 tweets long. In case you’re now worried Donald Trump might compile his tweets into a book and win don’t worry, the Booker is for works written in English. It is a very high profile literary award that even to be nominated for the long list is a mark of distinction. The winner receives a 50,000 pound prize, but this pales into insignificance when compared to the prestige associated with winning this award. So you can imagine the scale of my disappointment not to make the long list. This was only heightened by the fact that I had already spent the prize money on preparations for a massive party to celebrate the announcement of my award on the 14th of October. I’ve even had the invitations printed on a very expensive card titled, ‘Come Celebrate with the Cooker of a Booker’. I might have got ahead of myself.
Between bouts of depression I’ve spent a lot of time since the list was announced trying to explain the judges’ glaring omission. Firstly is there a prejudice against women? Possibly, but 35% of Booker prizes in the last 20 years have gone to women. Not brilliant, but better than the proportion of crash test dummies that are women (none), resulting in a diagonal seat belt that has elevated one of my boobs above the other, they’re no longer abreast. But I digress. Could it be because I’m not a resident of the United Kingdom? No, but neither were 70% of winners in recent years, including New Zealand’s own Eleanor Caton in 2013 and before that Kiri Hume in 1985. So given our small population size New Zealand women have done well. The issue certainly isn’t talent, sppelling or; grammar.
The only thing I can think of that might have kept me from this year’s list and the bookshelves of the world’s finest book stores is that I didn’t get a book to them in time. That was only because I didn’t write a book. That is so unfair! If Alfred Nobel (inventor of dynamite) can spawn a peace prize, and Donald Trump can be President without being presidential, then why can’t I be a celebrated author without writing a book?
It’s not as if I deliberately didn’t write a book. There was nothing intentional or premeditated in my failure to furnish the judges with a book. I just forgot to write one. This can happen to anyone; forgetfulness is a very common human foible. I feel deeply aggrieved that being human has come between me and my goal of becoming a distinguished author.
I forget other things too. Forgotten birthdays, names (sometimes my own), cervical smear appointments and reasons why I entered a room litter my past like U-turns trail a politician. All have been accommodated and generally looked over with a benevolent, ‘That Cecily, she’s a card!’ But not those Booker people. They’ve chosen the high road of pedantry. I’ll not forget this.
I will write a book for the 2020 Booker prize, unless I forget, and the inspiration for this endeavour will come from a best-selling book on Amazon after the 2016 US Presidential elections. The book was blank inside; the title was, and I kid you not, Why Trump Deserves Trust, Respect and Admiration. I think I’ll title mine, ‘How deadlines changed my life’. Take that, Booker people!
I won’t start on it just yet though, I’ve got an enormous credit to get through at a restaurant and bar first.