This post was written by guest blogger Andy Fine.
Small Island by Andrea Levy won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award earlier this evening (actually last night, if you’re in Britain). It also won the Orange Prize for Fiction. Since this book isn’t available in the U.S. yet, all I can tell you is that it’s “an affectionate comedy of errors, misunderstandings and prejudice at the onset of West Indian immigration to Britain.”
Overshadowing the win is the revelation that the Whitbread judges, like the Booker judges, don’t bother to read all of the entrants — ironic since the Whitbread is subtitled “for people who love reading.” The reason: not enough scratch. One unnamed judge said “for judges to read the whole longlist, the Whitbread would need to pay properly.” Nice.
Maybe I’m just a dumb yankee, but it seems like being asked to judge a literary competition like the Whitbread or the Booker would be reward enough. I hereby swear that, if asked to judge the Whitbread (about as likely as the moon crashing into the sun) I will read every fucking book, simply because I would be embarassed to admit I hadn’t.
Have you no shame, unnamed judge? Have . . . you . . . no . . . shame?
(for more, see Guardian Unlimited)