"Every word of the book you hold in your hand is absolutely true," says the cover.So is this non-fiction? No, once again it simply indicates that the reader isn't sure when the cultural commentary stops and the satirical fantasy begins. Better hope for a mighty American for the top slot next year .. maybe one with a touch of the demagogue .. sexy back story, photogenic, no stranger to controversy. Or maybe just Bret Easton Ellis on the long-list.Having just read the new Bret Easton Ellis, I can confirm that he's unlikely to win prizes for his literature, let alone the Booker. Lunar Park's narrator is a fictional character known as Bret Easton Ellis, who is being stalked by a serial killer called Patrick Bateman (a chap familiar to readers of American Psycho). Whatever the reason, they've done their job in establishing the intellectual credentials of the award.Now the only worry is that the Anglo-American grunt wrestlers who are needed to hype up the prize and engage the hysteria of the media will lose interest in it because it's not about them and their pals any more Oh dear. It included Philip Roth, John Updike, Muriel Spark, Ian McEwan, Doris Lessing and Margaret Atwood. All these writers are voraciously read by literature junkies because they tell us so much about those people we all think we know so well: ourselves.One great thing about the international Booker this year is that it will serve bookish consumers well by giving us a whole new backlist to demolish.
Another is that it will give us a whole new sensibility to absorb. My hunch is that judges were as entranced by this aspect of their encounter with Kadare as they were by the sheer quality of his prose. May I propose another ending to Ulysses? "No I said no I won't No." More from Howard Jacobson. So our parochial fears were unfounded.
A no might not always save a life, but it doesn't knowingly take one Nor does a no make anybody stupid. Say no to books and you might possibly miss out on wisdom; say yes to Harry Potter and you certainly will.We sentimentalise affirmation. Molly Bloom's "yes I said yes I will Yes" is very attractive when you're 16 and up for anything. But in life we'd be treating her for chlamydia, crabs, genital warts, depression and vaginitis. In such a place, the idea of anyone saying "I prefer not to" was inconceivable. The humanity out of which Bartleby's forlorn resistance spoke no longer existed.Non Nee No Our only defence against fanaticism, sameness and inanity.