While Zadie Smith believes literary prizes are only "nominally about literature," and many of them are, I thought the 2007 Man Booker committee did a fabulous job. My favorite, Tan Twan Eng's The Gift of Rain, made the long list, but not the short, but still, I was happy to see Irish author Anne Enright win the prize for The Gathering.
To me, giving the prize to The Gathering was not at all politically motivated (some thought it was "too early" for another Irish author to win after John Banville's 2005 win for The Sea) and it was "all about literature."
It's no secret that The Gathering wasn't the most popular book on the short list. The Man Booker committee was obviously not out to garner popularity votes. Many people didn't like The Gathering's main character, found the overall tone of the book "too bitter," or were simply put off by the writing style. Personally, I loved the book and I congratulate the committee for choosing excellence in writing rather than picking a winner for "other" reasons.
I'd love to know what Zadie Smith (who is a very good writer, though I've never been able to get involved in her books - just personal preference) thinks about The Gathering's win. I've yet to read anything about her opinion on this.
P.S. Indra Sinha's Animal's People, one of the Booker short list favorites, has recently been published in the US. If you haven't read it, it certainly won't be time wasted. And the title character is truly unforgettable.
P.P.S. I realize the 2007 Booker is behind us and the Kiriyama Prizes will be awarded on April 1st. More about those later.