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I didn't mean it

By Jason Cowley   July 2000

I was a Booker prize judge in 1997, and I have never really recovered from the experience of reading so many novels in such a short time. When the jamboree was over and we had awarded the prize to Arundhati Roy, I recall writing an essay for this magazine in which I spoke of my frustration with the modern English novel. I was especially concerned at the failure of so many novelists to engage energetically with the present, preferring instead to write costume dramas and historical fiction. What was it, I wondered, about contemporary reality that so many writers were…

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