The Man Booker prize, awarded last night, went to Hilary Mantel for Wolf Hall. I shall wait for the paperback, or the library copy, as I haven't had much success with reading Ms Mantel in the past.
The most interesting thing about the final six for me was the fact that they were all historical novels. Hopefully, this may mean the genre will open up again after being on the back foot for a few years.
Paranormals rushed into the market place and must have helped push historicals to the back of the queue. It was interesting to see how many historical writers added a paranormal twist in the hope that the new "young" market would read them. I'm not so sure the market was or indeed is "young" in the sense of teenagers or people in the early twenty something bracket. The paranormal novel has been around for years in different guises - sometimes called gothic, sometimes horror, sometimes horrid. When I worked in public libraries, I was amazed to find that the most popular section of the non-fiction was true crime - how murders were committed, with gruesome details. Now I suspect forensic crime has taken over - any modern librarians out there to testify?
People, perhaps only those comfortably situated, seem to have always had a need to be scared. It might make for a good dissertation to discover if the need for horror in reading matter diminishes in times of war and other disasters. As real life becomes more comfortable for so many in this modern age, it is perhaps not so surprising that horror and paranormals have flooded onto the market.
I long for good, solidly researched historical novels with a story to tell, and sadly the library shelves are full of titles I've already read. The Plaidys, Barnes and Heyes currently being re-issued are fine if you haven't read them, but I wish the twenty-something publishers would remember that lots of people were around the first time the books came out - and those folk are still here and looking for a good read!