By Lucy Elmann, publisher Galley Beggar Press
Shortlisted for the 2019 Man Booker Prize.
I've not read everything on the shortlist of the 2019 Man Booker Prize, not even half of it.
But I was only 50 pages into Lucy Ellmann's novel Ducks, Newburyport when I began to believe in its importance as one of the great books of our time.
And I wanted it to win a big prize too! So that everybody would know how good it was, and so that people could be wowed by it just as I was.
There is nothing like Ducks, Newburyport, and although there are many descriptions and summarisations of it out there, I don't think anything comes close. There is nothing like Ducks, Newburyport for fun, for anger, for comedy, for politics, for language, for style, for succinct 1020 page storytelling. Nothing.
One reviewer suggested that Ducks, Newburyport may be the first time a novelist has succeded in getting 'everything' into a work of fiction. I think I know what they mean, and I think I agree.
I don't normally follow these prizes and awards, but this novel is DIFFERENT, and so I was thrilled when Ducks, Newburyport was shortlisted for this renonwned and world-famous prize, the Man Booker.
I was less pleased over the following weeks when I began to see that for the first time that I could remember, the Man Booker Prize seemed to have been awarded in advance of the ceremony.
That other nominee, The Testaments by Margaret Atwood was everywhere! On the radio, was Margaret Atwood! I lost count of the Margaret Atwood displays in bookshops.
One display even included a basket and a baby doll, for added Atwoodian emphasis. Atwood was in the paper and on the news, and film deals and television series discussions were broadcast every week, and yet the media and the shopfronts remained soundless when it came to Ducks, Newburyport ... and the other shortlisted books.
When one Margaret Atwood display came down, another one went up, and so the Margaretegemony was perpeutated.
All I can now seek to do to remedy this was to blog, the last recourse of any scoundrel these days, I know.
But now I have blogged and you have supped on the fruits of that blog!
Bookshops! And BBC radio stations! Do not think I have missed your attempts to promote the Atwood book, and pre-award her this prize.
I have my own Duck to back, and whatever happens, the mild audacities of these bookshop displays and BBC Radio Maraget-puffs will not affect the future legendary status of Ducks, Newburyport, which, PRIZE OR NOT will remain as I have said, as one of the great, great books of our time.