20 January, 2019

Some Booker Prize Loots


I'm still in the business of collecting first editions despite, clearly, a visibly decline in my posts attributable to a hectic schedule and a laptop with increasingly erratic keyboard. 

Late last year, I chanced upon an eBay seller with some first edition Bookers. While my collection is largely American, I'm also actively looking for Bookers mainly to track and be reminded of the performance of preeminent prize winners over time. It seems that most - especially early accolades in the prize's infant and adolescent years - don't do that well and are subjected to severe time decay that sees them relegated to the public's peripheral memory, rarely, if ever, studied by academics to any meaningful depth.

But enough of those ramblings. Let's get to the books. First up is Paul Scott's "Staying On", published by Heinemann in 1977 when it won the Booker that included the finalists Paul Bailey's "Peter Smart's Confessions", Caroline Blackwood's "Great Granny Webster", Jennifer Johnston's "Shadows on our Skin", Penelope Lively's "The Road to Lichfield", and Barbara Pym's "Quartet in Autumn". Scott is probably better remembered today for his Raj Quartet, and even that's likely limited to undergraduates specializing in post-colonial literature. 

Next up is Anita Brookner's Hotel du Lac (not in the picture above; due to year-end holidays, the books arrived separately, and Brookner was the last). Hotel du Lac was the surprised, and much criticized, 1984 Booker, having pipped out hot favorite and critically acclaimed Empire of the Sun by J. G. Ballard. Brookner was apologetic of the win and remarked that it might have been better if Empire won.

Lastly, there is Peter Carey's True History of the Kelly Gang. Carey won his first Booker in 1988 with Oscar and Lucinda, and this is his second Booker awarded in 2001. The true first edition for this title is published in Australia by The University of Queensland Press in 2000 in hardcover without dust jacket, and with a Carey-signed card stating "This hardcover edition is from the first Australian print run, published on 14 October 2000".




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