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Posts Tagged ‘Peter Carey

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

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Waterstones’ New Voices 2009 – Interview Six – Matthew Plampin

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Matthew Plampins novel The Street Philosopher

The Street Philosopher by Matthew Plampin

Debut novelist Matthew Plampin brings us to number six in our series of interviews with the Waterstones’ ones to watch 2009. Matthew grew up in Essex and went to university in Birmingham, studying English and History of Art. He then went to complete his PHD at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. Now lecturing in Nineteenth century art and architecture he also found time to complete his first novel The Street Philosopher.

Set in the violent back drop of the Crimean War The Street Philosopher tells the story Thomas Kitson a promising art critic who gives it all up to become a war reporter. Following in Kitson’s footsteps are his boss, a drink obsessed Irish reporter, and a sensitive young illustrator who was commissioned to follow the British Army into war. Jumping between scenes during the war and Manchester a year after the war which sees Thomas Kitson becomes the street philosopher reporting on the daily gossip. Struggling to come to terms with his war time past may scupper a budding relationship with the widowed daughter of a corrupt factory owner.

Critics celebrated Plampin’s excellent research skills brining the horrors of the Crimean war to life, drawing on his own experiences dealing with raw historical text has allowed Matthew Plampin to give the reader a realistic insight into the Crimean war whilst dealing with the ever-present issue of returning back to normality.

Matthew speaks to The Scribbler about his own influences, what inspires him and what it means to be included on the Waterstones ones to watch list 2009.

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The Scribbler: What is different about your writing that helps it stand out from other new writers at the moment?

Matthew Plampin: I don’t know if that’s really for me to say. I hope that it takes a vivid and cinematic approach to historical fiction.

TS: As a ‘New Voice of 2009’ you must be inspired by some very contemporary authors. Which writers do you enjoy reading and draw inspiration from?

MP: I’m a big fan of Peter Carey, particularly ‘True History of the Kelly Gang’, and will also read anything by Kate Grenville, Sarah Waters or Beryl Bainbridge. I really like modern graphic novels as well, especially those by Chris Ware or Daniel Clowes.

TS: Our readers will be very interested in how you approach a writing project. Where do you lift your ideas from?

MP: All sorts of places. I read a lot of history, but also take care to utilise primary sources – Victorian newspapers, diaries, guidebooks and so on – in an effort to create an authentic feel and get the details right. Visual imagery is also very important to me. One of the first things I do is get a good map of the places I’m writing about, as well as any paintings, engravings or photographs that I come to hand. I find Victorian photography completely engrossing. The Crimean War was one of the very first to photographed, and I regularly consulted the many ghostly images taken by Roger Fenton whilst writing ‘The Street Philosopher’. This has led me to a broader interest – I’m particularly fascinated right now by the photographs taken by Lady Clementina Hawarden in the late 1850s, some of which have an eerily contemporary feel to them. I’m also frequently inspired by TV and film. Recent favourites have included ‘Deadwood’, ‘The Wire’ and ‘There Will Be Blood’.

TS:  When you first began writing how easy was it to find and sign to publisher? Can you talk us through that

MP: Not very! I actually wrote an entire novel before ‘The Street Philosopher’ that sunk without trace, which was disheartening to say the least, but it meant that I was a little more thick-skinned later on. Basically, I circulated passages of the first proper draft as widely as I could and eventually, through a friend in publishing, it found its way to my agent – who happened to be looking for new authors at the time. We then worked on a new draft of the novel together and he managed to get me a deal with HarperCollins. It took a lot of perseverance and a fair bit of serendipity.

TS: What obstacles have you come across in your writing and how did you overcome them?

MP: The main challenges of ‘The Street Philosopher’ were making the novel’s two chronological strands equally engaging; balancing grand-scale historical events such as royal ceremonies and major battles with the characters’ personal trials, triumphs and tragedies; and explaining often quite complicated history in a way that was interesting and didn’t slow down the narrative. The only way to overcome them was through hard work and extensive redrafts.

TS: We often hear that artists have trouble dealing with their own pieces (i.e. musicians not able to listen to their albums etc.) How do you feel about your own work? Are you comfortable with it?

MP: Mostly. There is a slight nervousness there – bits that gave me trouble that still sometimes flag up in my mind even though the issues are long since resolved. But for every wince I can usually find a few passages that I’m pretty pleased with.

TS: Have you already started work on your next book? Is it difficult to leave one piece behind and start new one?

MP: I’m actually within a couple of months of finishing the first draft of my second novel – it should be out in early 2010. Leaving ‘The Street Philosopher’ behind was hard as I’d worked on it for over four years, but starting something completely new has been exhilarating. It’s a story of intricate conspiracies and bloody betrayal set around a gun factory in 1850s Pimlico, owned and overseen by the legendary American revolver-maker Colonel Samuel Colt, and I’m enjoying writing it a lot.

TS:  What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given and advice would you give to our budding readers today?

MP: Redraft repeatedly; everything can be improved. Consider advice carefully, but don’t allow it to overwhelm or redirect what you set out to do. And get something down – a very basic point but a vital one. I’ve learned that a flawed draft you can go back to is a lot better than nothing.

TS: In your opinion what is The Street Philosopher about?

MP: In my opinion (broadly speaking and in no particular order): trauma and injustice, then redemption and revenge; different, even conflicting conceptions of duty and friendship; the complex role of the war correspondent; the corruption wrought by power – in all its forms.

TS: What books inspired you to pick up the pen and start writing?

MP: ‘True History of the Kelly Gang’ by Peter Carey; ‘The Stones of Venice’ by John Ruskin; ‘Moby-Dick’ by Herman Melville; ‘Bleak House’ by Charles Dickens; ‘Romola’ by George Eliot; ‘The Golden Legend’ by Jacobus de Voraigne; ‘An Instance of the Fingerpost’ by Iain Pears; ‘Mason and Dixon’ by Thomas Pynchon. And too many others to list here.

TS: What is your learning background?, and do you feel it helped you in writing your novel?

MP: I did a PhD in Victorian cultural history at the Courtauld Institute of Art, which not only exposed me to a lot of the raw historical material that inspired the novel, but also accustomed me to solitude, the planning and researching of large writing projects, and long, long hours – all of which has proved essential.

TS: What does it mean to you to be named as one of the New Voices of 2009 by Waterstones?

MP: A great deal – it’s massively encouraging to be selected as one of twelve from such an enormous pool of entrants, and seeing the book on display in the window of the Piccadilly branch has definitely been one of the high points of the whole experience so far.

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Bellow is a video of the man himself talking to Waterstones about his book The Street Philosopher

Discussion:
So has anyone been reading The Street Philosopher? What’s your verdict? Leave your comments below