Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Guardian blogger roots for Deighton 1970 Booker win

Guardian blogger Sam Jordison has written an interesting comment piece on yesterday's story of the Lost Man Booker Prize from 1970, for which a panel of three judges is producing a short list of novels from that year which missed out on the chance of winning the Booker Prize due to changes in the competition.

Jordison writes that Bomber by Deighton is an intriguing case, given the company it's in on the list, and wonders whether the snobbery of the literary elite may play against it, the book being firmly rooted in the thriller/war story genre:

"It's a moot point. What I am sure of is that if they had dismissed Deighton, they would have been wrong. He is a superb writer, long overdue serious recognition from the literary establishment, so Booker can only be applauded for his nomination. I recently re-read his Game, Set and Match trilogy and the novels seemed stronger than ever. The fact that they now tell of a (thankfully) lost era has only sharpened their edge, while the grumpy, messed-up and too-often-messed-with Bernard Sampson is one of the most compelling characters in recent fiction."

Jordison is clearly a fan of Deighton and marks Bomber out as a dark horse for winning this unusual competition; he read it twenty years ago, recalling the sweaty palms of excitement as he turned each page, the sign of a compelling story:

"I'd be tempted to aim the much-overused word masterpiece at it. But don't take it from me. Take it from Kingsley Amis, who rated it one of the top 10 British novels of the 20th century. As the author of Lucky Jim (which might just squeeze into the top five), he ought to know what he's talking about!"

I may follow Jordison's example and put a couple of quid on Deighton to win!


  1. Sorry, and it seems I'm always knocking Deighton, but I liked The Drivers Seat far far better (I don't normally like Spark), there was something about it that I went wow that was good. It was just different. Read it at night when everybody is at bed and just enjoy it.

  2. Markus, not a problem. Just sharing a perspective on an interesting idea; I've not read any Muriel Spark, so I can't comment on here. Will be interesting to see the short list.