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The mystery mystery

In a column for the The Guardian, writer Peter Preston raises some interesting questions on why literary shortlists exclude genre novels. Inspired by a recent onstage discussion between P.D. James and Ian Rankin, in which the heavyweight mystery authors questioned why works in their genre are not considered for the Man Booker Prize, Preston argues that a form of literary elitism is shutting out worthy novels from the major shortlists. As Preston points out, there is no such prejudice against genre works in cinema: “Any tolerable list of great movies would have John Ford’s The Searchers in there somewhere, not to mention Howard Hawks’s The Big Sleep and Ford Coppola’s three Godfathers. That is a western, a private eye thriller and a gangster saga — genres immemorial. Choosing them wouldn’t preclude other, wholly different choices, to be sure: a Truffaut, Fassbinder or Wajda. But the list itself would be catholic and generous, not narrowly restrictive.”

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Read the Guardian article