Monday, April 14, 2008

Shout at the television time: The Galaxy British Book Awards

My sort of New Year's Resolution to read more didn't get very far (the slow-changing nature of the My Library widget on this page is testament to that), so I probably have no business watching or criticising The Galaxy British Book Awards. But nonetheless...

Like everything else these days, it had been been hijacked by the Micro-Celebrities. The best biography section dominated by tv stars and won by Russell Brand, the "popular non-fiction" award was won by Ewan McGregor and that other bloke with a motorbike, and Katie Price/Jordan was nominated for her book about pony care.

But worse were some of the celebrity presenters. That man Ross popped up again to present the big prize, obviously not content with his BBC millions, he has to appear on Channel 4 too. Geri Halliwell was even worse though. She looked quite nice with her curly hair and pretty dress - "oohh you look just like a fairy" cooed Judy, and I questionned whether a woman pushing 40 should really want to look like a fairy anymore. Then she started talking about her new book that she had coming out soon and how, as all of the other authors in the audiences would know, she felt so proud of it. You could see "the other authors" i.e. the proper ones, who weren't singers/dancers/presenters, bristle at that. She then exclaimed "I love reading!". Nothing more, no indication of what it was she liked to read.

Most awards shows involve actors and they tend to be pretty good at being the magnanamus loser, even if it isn't genuine and they are putting their acting skills into use. Not so the authors. Some of them tried, but none could hide their disappointment and a few especially failed to hide their outright displeasure, especially if the book that beat them was lower-brow than theirs.

Surprisingly, the best bit of the show was the Richard & Judy Book Club Award. Whilst I'm always quick to remove the "Richard & Judy Book Club" sticker if any book I read happens to have been a choice of theirs, I do think it is a good thing, anything that encourages more reading can't be bad. This prize was won by "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini, who gave a brilliant speech about how he hoped one day another writer from Afghanistan would collect this prize, and that it might one day be a woman. I thought I might cry at this point and I've not even read his book, but then I nearly always cry at awards ceremonies.

The entrants in the Best Newcomer category were reassuringly mature, so I suppose there is hope yet that I might write that novel.


a girl in winter said...

I'd recommend 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' - very moving, although I preferred 'The Kite Runner'. Both are worth reading for an insight into the recent history of Afghanistan.

SandDancer said...

Hello. Nice to hear from you. Hope you are ok. I've had my eye on The Kite Runner for a while too. I've got such a pile of books to read already and I've had a few months of not really being in the mood. But I seem to be back in reading mode now so hopefully I'll get round to those soon.

cogidubnus said...

Sorry I was too busy getting on with some reading to watch!

I always try to avoid book award programmes, as they either seem far too pretentiously highbrow (like half the Bookers) or far too populist, with very little balanced middle ground in between...

But perhaps mine, in itself, isn't a very balanced view!