Private: Openings

The Independent held an “Opening Gambits” competition, in which participants were asked to submit the first few words of a classic but imaginary unpublished novel. The results are in.

Boyd Tonkin, a former Booker judge and literary editor of The Independent, introduces the winners and talks briefly about judging for the Booker Prize. When he read the first paragraph of Coetzee’s Disgrace, he says, he thought thought, “That’ll take some beating.”

Indeed. The first paragraph is excerpted, so you can verify its brilliance. And I can tell you that the rest of the novel is just about that good. With Disgrace, Coetzee became the first writer to win the Booker twice.