Favorites seldom win major book awards. To this point, an aspect of publishing I concentrated on over the years involves bestseller lists. I mentioned in a Newsletter, originally broadcast on November 18, 2014, that the National Book Awards were being announced the next day, and to look for the winners. The overwhelming favorite for Fiction, once again, didn’t win. Debut writer Phil Klay won for REDEPLOYMENT, a roman à clef of short stories involving his hitch in the service and deployment to Afghanistan. Anthony Doerr was the consensus if not overwhelming favorite for THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, but the judges, as with the Booker assemblage in the U.K., seem to revel in selecting any book except the favorite.
The Booker panel, as I’ve written often, in my opinion has picked some novels that are god-awful stories. To be fair, many literary critics have said the same about Nobel selections. I’m far from a literary critic. My judgment of any book is based on seeking enjoyment beyond all else. And using this criterion, it’s easy to see why many mainstream readers will criticize those who read Literature (as a category) as being pseudo intellectuals. The material couldn’t possibly by liked by anyone who enjoys a good or well-written story (these days I have to separate the two). There is, however, great literature out there. It’s just not always what wins awards, and especially those that are considered to of a major nature. And heaven help the favorites with the reading public. Lay readers–liking something–apparently harbingers the kiss of doom.