Irish Novelist May Not Win the Booker

An Irish author has, by dint of sheer chutzpah, managed a way to be nominated for a literary award before his book has been published. Two weekends ago, Julian Gough posted a plea for help on his website under the title, ‘Help save civilisation by reading a funny book’. Gough asked readers to read and review his forthcoming comic novel Jude in London for the Guardian’s annual Not the Booker Prize.

Publishers are usually understandably loathe to distribute copies of a book before its publication date for intellectual property reasons – which is where Gough’s “save the civilisation” angle came in. Gough claimed that by reading a copy of his book publication, readers would be undermining capitalism.

The Not the Booker Prize is, in Gough’s own words, “the most entertaining prize in the literary calendar; an annual online flame-war-slash-literary-debate that can be very helpful in drawing attention to unusual books. (The prize itself is a mug, worth about £1.50. But the glory is incalculable!)” The only catch is that, as Jude in London hasn’t been published yet and could only be shortlisted if nominated by a reader by last Wednesday. Gough offered to send readers a digital copy of his book. He asked them in return to write a 150-word review of the book before the deadline lapsed.

If Gough’s publisher had reservations about the stunt, they’ll have dissipated by now: it seems to worked a treat. Not only was Gough’s book nominated for the prize – it is now the clear frontrunner for the prize.



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22 August 2011

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