Following on from the 'Best of the Booker' award given in 2008 to Salman Rushdie for Midnight's Children (a worthy winner), the James Tait Black Prize is to recognise the best winner of that award over its history as a way of commemorating 250 years of the study of English Literature in the University of Edinburgh. Given annually by the university it is the oldest literary award in Britain running since 1919. It awards two prizes, for the best work of fiction and the best biography but this 'best of' the James Tait Black is to be for fiction alone.
The shortlist is of six has been chosen by the students of literature which will say something for their timeless quality.
The University of Edinburgh
I think this is a great idea; getting the young people who are studying these books to make the selection. It is an unexpected list but has great breadth of subject. It is awards like this that can get new books brought into the restricted 'canon' of literature and all the politics that the word carries with literature students. I for one am delighted to see The Road on the list, already considered a modern classic.
The six shortlisted novels are:
The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene (1948)
The Mandelbaum Gate by Muriel Sparks(1965)
Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter(1984)
A Disaffection by James Kelman(1989)
Crossing the River by Caryl Phillips(1993)
The Road by Cormac McCarthy(2006)
The award winner will be announced in December.