UEA professor is against capitalism Shock, Horror!

What is astonishing is the acquiescence with which the value system I’ve just described is met with by most writers. Most will feel that it doesn’t speak to why they’re writers at all, but few will discuss this openly. Acceptance is one of the most dismaying political consequences of capitalism. It informs the literary too, and the way publishers and writers “go along” with things. The Booker now has a stranglehold on how people think of, read, and value books in Britain. It has no serious critics. Those who berate its decisions about individual awardees (James Kelman’s prize back in 1994 prompted one judge to say it was “frankly, crap”) ritually add to its allure. After all, the attractiveness of the free market has to do with its perverse system of rewards – unlike socialism, which said everyone should be moderately well off, the free market proposes that anyone can be rich.

The Booker’s randomness celebrates this; it confirms the market’s convulsive metamorphic powers, its ability to confer success unpredictably. In literature, it has redefined terms like “masterpiece” and “classic”.

Few writers, though, display any prickliness. Instead, we end up with the acceptance characteristic of capitalism – which, lately in politics, has led to deep alienation and monstrous alternatives like Donald Trump.

The Booker prize created Trump it appears.

24 thoughts on “UEA professor is against capitalism Shock, Horror!”

  1. “unlike socialism, which said everyone should be moderately well off (but never achieves it), the free market proposes that anyone can be rich (and successfully lifts the poorest in society out of poverty)”.

    Fixed it for him.

  2. Ironically, (OR IS IT?), “How late it was, how late” is the only Booker prize winner I’ve read. I quite enjoyed it.

  3. Bookers Cash and Carry is a lot more important to the people of this country than the fucking Booker Prize.

    What vile leftist puke the so-called Guardian newspaper pours over its pages .

    Mass murder by vile socialist scum? What mass murder? Some bullshit prize for posing literary psueds–most of whom are likely leftscum anyway–is what really matters. The individual who squeezed this latest Gladrag trash piece out of his innards is not merely evil but an utter buffoon to boot.

  4. unlike socialism, which said everyone should be moderately well off, the free market proposes that anyone can be rich.

    Chavez’s daughters proves that statement incorrect. Or was it Not real socialism ™ in Venezuela.

  5. If anything, the opposite is true. The Glob has taken firm hold of traditional book-publishing in the US and UK. If your submission does not parrot the usual mealy-mouthed SJW platitudes you are likely to find it rejected.

    The only place where centre-right and right-wing writers can breathe now in is self-publishing, and even that is likely to change (think of Bezos’s acquisition of the Washington Post).

  6. “The Booker now has a stranglehold on how people think of, read, and value books in Britain.”

    I do seem to remember attempting to read a Booker winner once. It left such an indelible mark on my literary tastes that I couldn’t tell you what it was or who it was by. But I did value it. It was a total waste of the 50p it cost me at a charity shop & went in the bin.

  7. In an article full of pretentious self-serving guff, there’s this:

    “…the question of why literature was important hadn’t been settled. It isn’t settled today.”

    Really? Imaginative literature is one of the main ways in which culture and morality are transmitted to future generations. See Homer et al for details.

  8. He’s welcome to set up his own prize as an alternative to the Booker. All he needs are some sponsors, some judges, and a minor scandal to generate some publicity.

    Perhaps the experience of trying to herd two dozen people into his new venture will teach him some valuable lessons. Unlikely though.

  9. The Booker? That’s hardly Dan Brown and The Martian, is it? It’s more at the sniff-your-own-farts stuff, isn’t it?

    The really interesting stuff is in self-publishing. If you’ve got a clue about writing, rather than being PR friendly so that publishers can get you on Oprah or Midweek, that’s the route you go. That’s what trad publishers do for you: get you on Midweek via their social connections. It’s a form of rent-seeking.

    I know a self-published author who is doing well and got approached by a major publisher and turned them down. Basically, they could sell a lot more books but she’d get a much smaller cut. And would be spending a lot of time doing PR stuff.

  10. Do Socialist countries not have similar competitions.

    I seem to remember there being such a thing as the Stalin Prize that became required reading. Literally.

    Long live Capitalism, where it is cheap and you don’t have to buy if you don’t want.

  11. I know a self-published author who is doing well and got approached by a major publisher and turned them down. Basically, they could sell a lot more books but she’d get a much smaller cut.

    Good for her!

  12. @Thomas Fuller: I shall forever be grateful to Amazon for delivering unpopular, obscure and unpolitically correct books to me when I lived in Somerset, which were of great assistance to me in shedding lefty values and assumptions I had held. I also appreciate the delivery of heretical texts in the modern plain wrapper equivalent, Kindle, which I can read in public places without drawing SJW fire, and can format for my failing eyesight. His business model has kept “the long tail” of publishing healthy where the bookchains fail to provide diversity and the independents toss a dose of judgementalism in with the order. If Bezos wants to pour his fortune into propping up lefty MSM that is his folly, as long as it doesn’t hinder the free flow of ideas at Amazon.

  13. It’s worth noting that Chaudhuri’s father was once the CEO of Britannia Industries Limited. He may despise capitalism, but he grew up never lacking for anything money could buy because of it. In all probability an Indian version of the Trust Fund Baby.

    And let’s remember this: The sort of novelist who ends up teaching writing for a living is the sort of novelist who cannot make a living writing novels.

  14. Tim Newman,

    It was also that she’d have to do a ton or PR: TV, newspapers, festivals, and she has a young family.

  15. Recall being at Hay Book festival and in a talk with Ian McEwen some woma said to him she thought he should have won the Booker the previous year, his answer was short and simple So do I

  16. The Booker’s randomness celebrates this; it confirms the market’s convulsive metamorphic powers, its ability to confer success unpredictably.

    Note the use of “unpredictably” here. The market confers success unpredictably because success derives from lots of people purchasing (and hence liking) the book.

    Success isn’t derived by people like Chauduri dictating what should be successful or not; instead ordinary people get to decide. The horror, the unpredictable horror!

  17. Success isn’t derived by people like Chauduri dictating what should be successful or not; instead ordinary people get to decide. The horror, the unpredictable horror!

    After spending no small amount of time plowing through the dreck that is Proust, Joyce, etc. I remarked to a favored lit professor that it seemed that 90% of great literature was bullshit. He corrected me. “95% of the greats are pure shit. Your job is to find the 5% that isn’t. You can’t do that by lingering over the shit.” When I then asked how it came to be that 95% of great literature is shit, he answered that those composing such lists each had an agenda… which usually had nothing to do with literature itself.

    So it is with Chauduri… He’s received some measure of critical success and no measure of commercial success. So, rather than either accept his lot in life or try to make his ‘art’ more commercial, the obvious answer is to coerce the market into doing his bidding. Sort of a literary Richard Murphy… If the world won’t bend my way, let’s use force.

  18. …The Booker now has a stranglehold on how people think of, read, and value books in Britain…

    Correct, but not in the way he intends. The words “nominated for Booker prize” (virtue signal?) indicate, nay scream Do Not Buy/Read

  19. Pingback: The Booker Prize isn't as important as a lot of folk think - friv,film ,oyunlar,face,

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