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Posts Tagged ‘Man Booker prize

Tom McCarthy favourite to win Booker Prize

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Tom McCarthy, the writer of this year's Booker favourite, C.

Tom McCarthy, the writer of this year's Booker favourite, C.

It has transpired that C, by Tom McCarthy, is the forerunner to win the Man Booker Prize when the accolade is awarded on Tuesday 12 October.

Bookies have reported heavy betting on the British writer’s novel in final hours before the ceremony.

C, one of six books nominated for the annual prize, which comes with a cheque for £50 000, follows the life of Serge Carrefax through the upheavals of early 20th century Europe.

Also shortlisted are Parrot and Olivier in America by Australia’s Peter Carey (bidding to become the first author to win the prize three times) and Room by Irish-born Emma Donoghue.

Carey is one of just two authors who have won the Booker twice. His last was in 2001 for True History of the Kelly Gang and prior to that in 1988 with Oscar and Lucinda. South African J.M. Coetzee has also claimed the prize twice.

Damon Galgut (In a Strange Room), Howard Jacobson (The Finkler Question) and Andrea Levy (The Long Song) complete nominees for 2010’s Booker.

In 1981, Salman Rushdie‘s Midnight’s Children earned him the title of Booker winner. In a recent interview Rushdie underlined the significance of being associated with literature’s biggest prize.

Talking to Reuters last week, Rushdie said: “It made a big difference, no question. In England the paperback of Midnight’s Children has sold well over a million copies, and it wouldn’t have done that (without the Booker). It’s very beneficial.”

Midnight’s Children also won the Best of the Booker title in 2008 which was chosen by a popular vote.

Hilary Mantel won the prize in 2009 for her historical novel Wolf Hall, which portrayed Henry VIII’s reign through Thomas Cromwell’s eyes.

The competition aims to reward the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the Commonwealth or Ireland. Past winners include V.S. Naipaul and William Golding.

Like music’s Mercury Prize, the Booker can launch the winning author to literary fame and bolster books sales by hundreds of thousands of copies internationally.

Watch Tom McCarthy discuss C below:

Discussion:
Have you read any of the Man Booker shortlisted offerings? Which is your favourite? Do you think Tom McCarthy would be a worthy winner of 2010’s prize?

Words: Dean Samways

The Booker Prize remembers the 70s

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The Booker Prize remembers some great novels 40 years on

The world famous Man Booker Prize is delving back 30 years to create the long list for what has been dubbed as The Lost Man Booker Prize. The reason for a wealth of literary gems missing out the chance to win one of the literary world’s most respected prizes has been put down to the fact that in 1971 just two years after it began The Booker stopped being awarded retrospectively and became as it is now the best novel in the year of publication. At the same time the date of the award being given was moved from April to November, this now means that one year’s worth of publications published in 1970 missed out on the chance to be nominated for the Booker prize.

Now forty years on a panel of judges whom all of them where born in or around 1970 has been selected to judge to create the shortlist of six novels that the Booker prize nearly forgot. The long list was made up of books that would have been available for selection in 1970 as well as still being in print and easily available. The panel of judges is made up of journalist and critic, Rachel Cooke, ITN newsreader, Katie Derham and poet and novelist, Tobias Hill.

The long list which was announced on the 1 February is

Brian Aldiss, ‘The Hand Reared Boy’
H.E.Bates, ‘A Little Of What You Fancy?’
Nina Bawden, ‘The Birds On The Trees’
Melvyn Bragg, ‘A Place In England’
Christy Brown, ‘Down All The Days’
Len Deighton, ‘Bomber’
J.G.Farrell, ‘Troubles’
Elaine Feinstein, ‘The Circle’
Shirley Hazzard, ‘The Bay Of Noon’
Reginald Hill, ‘A Clubbable Woman’
Susan Hill, ‘I’m The King Of The Castle’
Francis King, ‘A Domestic Animal’
Margaret Laurence, ‘The Fire Dwellers’
David Lodge, ‘Out Of The Shelter’
Iris Murdoch, ‘A Fairly Honourable Defeat’
Shiva Naipaul, ‘Fireflies’
Patrick O’Brian, ‘Master and Commander’
Joe Orton, ‘Head To Toe’
Mary Renault, ‘Fire From Heaven’
Ruth Rendell, ‘A Guilty Thing Surprised’
Muriel Spark, ‘The Driver’s Seat’
Patrick White, ‘The Vivisector’

Some of the names featured in the long list have featured in later Booker prize nominations David Lodge, Muriel Spark, Nina Bawden and Susan Hill where all featured in later lists. Going one step further J.G. Farrell, novel The Siege of Krishnapur won the prize in 1973 whilst Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, The Sea won in 1978. Proving that the long list is not just made up of one hit wonders that should remain in the 70s, Ion Trewin, literary director of the Man Booker Prizes commented on the list saying “Our long list demonstrates that 1970 was a remarkable year for fiction written in English. Recognition for these novels and the eventual winner is long overdue”.

The shortlist will be announced in March but like previous Booker prizes the final six will be thrown to the reading public for voting, with the overall winner being announced in May.

Watch Hilary Mantel chat about winning The Man Booker Prize 2009 with her novel Wolf Hall belo:

Discussion:
So, do you think The Booker Prize guys have missed off any titles? What is your favourite book of the 70s and why? Maybe there’s another novel based in the 70s that deserves some credit too?

Words: Seamus Swords

Final Fantasy II

“And the winner of the Costa Book of the Year Award is…”

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Winner Sebastian Barry

Winner Sebastian Barry

Sebastian Barry has won the Costa Book of the Year Award after narrowly losing out in October’s Man Booker prize. The Irish novelist was announced as the winner at a ceremony in London on Thursday 27 January.

The winning book, The Secret Scripture, has been described as a moving account of a woman’s stolen life and her efforts to reclaim the past.

The judges heralded the book as an “exquisitely written love story that takes you on an unforgettable journey – you won’t read a better book this year.”

Barry was the bookmaker’s favourite to take the £25,000 prize beating what many considered to be the most acclaimed shortlist in the prize’s history. Sebastian wasn’t the only winner first time bestselling novelist Sadie Jones and her book The Outcast won the first book award whilst 91 years old Diana Athill became the oldest short listed winner for her historical memoires Somewhere Before The End.

Following the judging, Matthew Parris, chair of the final judges, said: “Sebastian Barry has created one of the great narrative voices in contemporary fiction in The Secret Scripture. It is a book of great brilliance, powerfully and beautifully written.”

The winners in each category are as followed:

Each shortlisted winner will take home £5,000 whilst the Sebastian Barry took home £25,000.

Watch Sebastian Barry talk about contemporary Irish voices below:

Discussion:
Has anyone read The Secret Scripture? What is it about Irish writers that makes them stand apart from some of their English counterparts?

Words: Seamus Swords

…and the Guardian first book award goes to…

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Alex Ross, winner of this years Guardian first book award (Guardian)

Alex Ross, winner of this years Guardian first book award (Guardian)

The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross was named this year’s Guardian first book at a ceremony in central London last night.

The overwhelmingly in-depth history of 20th century music, embracing classical through to contemporary, was the undisputed winner of the £10 000 first prize.

Chair of the judging panel, Guardian literary editor Claire Armitstead, said: “In some quarters this book has been seen as not having a popular appeal. Our prize – which, uniquely, relies on readers’ groups in the early stages of judging – proves that, on the contrary, there is a huge appetite among readers for clear, serious but accessible books.”

Another judge said: “Where Ross lifts his book above the ‘expert’ and impressive to the ‘good read’ category is in the way he wears his learning lightly, never clutches for false or contrived ways of explaining music, and never dumbs down in order to explain.”

Waterstone’s reading groups up and down the country also helped with the judging process. One member said: “Every time I felt overwhelmed by the technicalities, along came a sublime metaphor or simile that would light up the prose.”

The Guardian’s website describes Ross’ book as ‘a lifetime’s enthusiasm and learning distilled into a rich narrative of musical history, setting the works of Mahler, Schoenberg, John Cage and the rest into their cultural and political contexts – but also giving a vivid sense of what the music he describes actually sounds and feels like’.

It goes on to say: “Of all the artforms, modern and contemporary classical music is often seen as the most rebarbative. Ross brushes aside the mythology of 20th-century music’s “inaccessibility” as he charts its meandering histories. Along the way, fascinating connections are made: hip-hop has more in common with Janacek than you might think; Arnold Schoenberg and George Gershwin were tennis partners; Gershwin, in turn, was an ardent fan of Alban Berg and kept an autographed photo of the composer of Lulu in his apartment. If there is an overarching idea to the book, it is perhaps contained in Berg’s pronouncement to Gershwin: “Mr Gershwin, music is music”.”

The current music critic of The New Yorker Ross, 40, was born in Washington DC. He was an enthusiastic teenage musician but it wasn’t until studied English and history at Harvard when he became interested in journalism and became a student broadcaster. Ross began writing music criticism after university and was appointed to his current role at The New Yorker in 1996. He also has a blog which he uses to great effect in transmitting his work around the globe.

The media reception of for The Rest is Noise has been phenomenal. The New York Review of Books said: “by far the liveliest and smartest popular introduction yet written to a century of diverse music”. The Economist noted: “No other critic writing in English can so effectively explain why you like a piece, or beguile you to reconsider it, or prompt you to hurry online and buy a recording.”

Former Observer music writer Nicholas Kenyon said: “At a time when people are still talking about 20th-century music as if it were a problem, here is a lucid and entertaining book about what I regard as some of the greatest music ever written. It’s a wonderful way to advance the cause of 20th-century music to an ordinary, intelligent general reader. It’s the ideal mix of enthusiasm and information.”

The judging panel for this year’s Guardian first book award was made up of novelist Roddy Doyle; broadcaster and novelist Francine Stock; poet Daljit Nagra; the historian David Kynaston; novelist Kate Mosse and Guardian deputy editor, Katharine Viner. Stuart Broom of Waterstones‘ spoke as the representative of the retailer’s reading groups.

The other books shortlisted for the award were Mohammed Hanif‘s A Case of Exploding Mangoes; Ross Raisin‘s God’s Own Country; Steve Toltz‘s A Fraction of the Whole (also put forward for the Man Booker prize) and Owen Matthews’s Stalin’s Children.

Previous winners of the prize have most notably included Stuart: A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters (2005) and Zadie Smith‘s White Teeth (2000).

See Ales Ross talk about The Rest is Noise in an interview below:

Words: Dean Samways