Man Booker Prize is one of my favorite literary prizes. The reason: I'm a mostly American-centric reader, and so the Booker nominees (see below for a short description of what the prize is, if you're not familiar) are usually authors I'd never heard of, thus opening an entirely new world of literary possibilities, already vetted by some pretty prestigious peeps (well, presumably — I've actually never heard of any of the Man Booker judges).
My next three reads — Room, by Emma Donoghue (which I started over the weekend); C, by Tom McCarthy; and Skippy Dies, by Paul Murray (who is actually Irish) — were all on the Man Booker longlist this year, and I've never read (or even heard of) any of those three writers until the longlist came out over the summer. The winner was actually Howard Jacobson's The Finkler Question, which sounds okay, but I'm not getting a speeding ticket on my way to B&N to pick it up. (Additionally, after much prodding from the peanut gallery, I finally read David Mitchell a few months ago — The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, which was also a Booker longlister. Wasn't my favorite book ever, but not terrible.)
In the past, I've found some stuff from across-the-pond novelists I'd never have heard of had they not wound up on the Booker list. Some I really liked — Sarah Hall (The Electric Michaelangelo) — some were a tad dull — Kiran Desai (The Inheritance of Loss). In both of those cases, I vividly remember being in a bookstore and picking them up on a whim, hoping to "get in on the ground floor" of a novelists not many of my fellow Americans may have heard of. Isn't one of the best book dork feelings recommending books to others that they end up loving?
Anyway, here's a (not at all inclusive) list of other British/Irish authors I've enjoyed: Ian McEwan, Ken Follett, Zoe Heller, Zadie Smith, Colum McCann and Nick Hornby. And here's a list of the best British writers since 1945, from The Times (London). There are several on here I've always meant to read, but haven't: Salman Rushdie, VS Naipul, AS Byatt, John Fowles, etc., etc.
Who are some of your favorite across-the-pond novelists? Anyone obscure or up-and-coming you'd recommend?
The Man Booker Prize aims to reward the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. The Man Booker judges are selected from the country's finest critics, writers and academics to maintain the consistent excellence of the prize. The winner of the Man Booker Prize receives £50,000 and both the winner and the shortlisted authors are guaranteed a worldwide readership plus a dramatic increase in book sales.