What is the furious homonym of "Booker Prize"?
June 1, 2014 3:11 PM   Subscribe

John Banville starts his review of Lost for Words, by Edward St. Aubyn, thus: "There are book prizes, and then there is the Booker Prize, known, fondly, as the Booker, or, furiously, by a close homonym." The only likely suspect that came to mind was "Bugger Prize," but Google suggests that is not a thing. Does anybody know what he's talking about?
posted by languagehat to Writing & Language (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
gotta be "fooker", no? Imagine it with an Irish accent.
posted by jenkinsEar at 3:13 PM on June 1 [5 favorites]

Booger Prize? That was the first thing that popped into my immature brain.
posted by slomodinkens at 3:18 PM on June 1

Some searching turned up the "man hooker" prize -- perhaps that's it?
posted by sophieblue at 3:24 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]


Most likely because it's judged by fuckers.
posted by Thing at 3:34 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]

It's got to be fucker, otherwise it wouldn't need the "by a close homonym" euphemism in the first place. They'd just write booger or hooker, both of which are 100% printable in the NY Review Of Books.
posted by Sara C. at 3:54 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]

> They'd just write booger or hooker, both of which are 100% printable in the NY Review Of Books.

So is "fucker"; the coyness is Banville's, not the NYRB's. I appreciate all the filthy suggestions, but I'm hoping somebody actually knows what Banville meant (unless, of course,he's just referring to some private joke).

> Some searching turned up the "man hooker" prize -- perhaps that's it?

Maybe, but Google suggests that's used for other (presumably jokey) prizes, not the Booker. Same goes for "Booger Prize."
posted by languagehat at 5:58 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]

In my Irish accent, 'Booker' rhymes with 'fucker'. Not only does 'booger' not rhyme with 'Booker', it's a very American term and I can't see Banville using it.
posted by Azara at 6:58 PM on June 1

Yeah, "Fooker" seems like the obvious choice there.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 8:25 PM on June 1

Not sure if this is technically a homonym but the "fucking / fecking booker" would make more sense to me.
posted by Middlemarch at 11:01 PM on June 1

If he's being somewhat accurate when he says "close homonym," (with "close" meaning "vaguely near kinda almost" rather than "scrupulous" or "accurate") the only thing I can imagine at all aside from "bugger" (and just adamantly rejecting outright the possibility that John Banville made a "booger" joke) is perhaps "butcher." But that seems really tortured (and I find no cites), while "Man Bugger Prize" seems almost inescapable (but still no cites).

On the other hand, if he really just means that it rhymes, there's this from Will Self (writing about Martin Amis) that provides evidence of "Hooker Prize" being a thing in the (British, at least) publishing world:
But the issue of fellatio relates to one of the wider charges against the writer, that of misogynism. This has stuck over the years to the extent that when a clique of women publishers in London were looking for someone to receive "The Hooker Prize" (their spoof version of the Booker Prize, awarded for services to literary male chauvinism), Amis was the first candidate.
posted by taz at 11:05 PM on June 1 [6 favorites]

I note "John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland in 1945."
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:15 AM on June 2

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