Archive for July, 2009

Hodd Robbed!

The 2009 Man Booker Prize longlist – or perhaps this year, since Sue Perkins is on the judging panel, it should be renamed the supersizelist – has been announced, it is:

A.S. Byatt – The Children’s Book (Random House – Chatto & Windus)
J.M. Coetzee – Summertime (Random House – Harvill Secker)
Adam Foulds – The Quickening Maze (Random House – Jonathan Cape)
Sarah Hall – How to Paint a Dead Man (Faber and Faber)
Samantha Harvey – The Wilderness (Random House – Jonathan Cape)
James Lever – Me Cheeta (Harper Collins – Fourth Estate)
Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall (Harper Collins – Fourth Estate)
Simon Mawer – The Glass Room (Little, Brown)
Ed O’Loughlin – Not Untrue & Not Unkind (Penguin – Ireland)
James Scudamore – Heliopolis (Random House – Harvill Secker)
Colm Toibin – Brooklyn (Penguin – Viking)
William Trevor – Love and Summer (Penguin – Viking)
Sarah Waters – The Little Stranger (Little, Brown – Virago)

So, no place for Hodd. I hope the judges don’t venture into Sherwood Forest any time soon! Indeed, it was probably not even among the 132 books they read (unless it was one of the eleven they called in) as Jonathan Cape obviously submitted The Quickening Maze and The Wilderness instead. To be fair, there were bound to be some tough choices in a year quite rightly described by BBC Radio 4’s James Naughtie, who is chairing the judges this year, as exceptional. He also described the longlist as one of the strongest in recent memory. Certainly any year where a new Margaret Atwood novel doesn’t make the longlist must be strong. The biggest surprise on the list has to be Me Cheeta – a fictional autobiography of Hollywood’s most famous chimp – which is being mistakenly shelved among real showbiz autobiographies in libraries.

To celebrate the longlist announcement, the 2009 Man Booker Prize will be showcased as part of the One & Other project on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, London. On Tuesday 11 August at 11am, a Man Booker Prize enthusiast will give readings from all 13 longlisted titles and then give away copies of the books. Please don’t throw bananas when he reads from Me Cheeta. Ahhhhhhuhahuhahuhahhhhhh!

The shortlist will be announced on September 8th (for the benefit of the superstitious, that’s the day before 9/9/9) and the winner on October 6th.

Sadly, Nottingham was also robbed of one of its finest literary talents on Saturday when Stanley Middleton died at the age of 89. Stanley was joint winner of the Booker Prize in 1974 for Holiday.

July 28, 2009 at 5:13 pm Leave a comment

Annual Man Booker fog-knitting competition

The Man Booker Prize longlist will be announced on Tuesday, so it’s crystal ball time again.

Predicting which novels the judges will select for their longlist is like trying to nail jelly to a wall, not least because those of us on the outside looking in never even know which books have been entered for the prize. After all, it wouldn’t do for authors to find out that their publisher had chosen someone else ahead of them. Ego juggling is best done in private.

Even assessing the eligibility of an author can be tricky. I had a moment of doubt about Adam Thorpe recently when I found out that he was born in Paris and resides in France – especially when I realised, with some surprise, that he has never even been longlisted before. Helpfully though, Howard Davies specifically mentioned Thorpe’s Between Each Breath in his speech at the ceremony two years ago, so Hodd should be in with a shot – if Jonathan Cape have submitted it that is. And ‘if’ is a big word. It also looks like an excellent year for literary fiction, so I’m expecting a really strong longlist, which may look something – or, more likely, nothing – like this:

Margaret Atwood – The Year of the Flood
A.S. Byatt – The Children’s Book
Rana Dasgupta – Solo
Jill Dawson – The Great Lover
Francesca Kay – An Equal Stillness
Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall
Simon Mawer – The Glass Room
Colum McCann – Let the Great World Spin
Caryl Phillips – In The Falling Snow
Kamila Shamsie – Burnt Shadows
Colm Toibin – Brooklyn
William Trevor – Love and Summer
Elise Valmorbida – The Winding Stick

Although these are the thirteen books I would most like to see on the longlist:

Margaret Atwood – The Year of the Flood
Anthony Cartwright – Heartland
J.M. Coetzee – Summertime
Rana Dasgupta – Solo
Sebastian Faulks – A Week in December
M. J. Hyland – This is How
Simon Mawer – The Glass Room
Colum McCann – Let the Great World Spin
James Palumbo – Tomas
Adam Thorpe – Hodd
Colm Toibin – Brooklyn
Fay Weldon – Chalcot Crescent
Elise Valmorbida – The Winding Stick

Will Hodd make it? I’m all aquiver.

July 27, 2009 at 12:03 am Leave a comment


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