Man Booker Prize 2013

cover of The luminariesThe literary pages here are abuzz with the news that “one of our own” appears in the Man Booker Prize longlist. Youth, talent, partly raised in Christchurch and graduate of the novel factory (aka Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters) – Eleanor Catton is ticking a lot of boxes.

Also rather freakishly her novel The luminaries is set on the West Coast, where our last big international literary splash Keri Hulme set her Booker Prize winner The bone people. Apart from that the two writers and their work could not be more different, and that’s how it should be if we have a developing a varied body of writing in our culture. In fact I was just remembering that The bone people was originally published by a women’s collective here in New Zealand. Contrast with The luminaries – hardbound editions for the UK, the USA and here. You can read more about Keri Hulme’s win on NZhistory. (including the classic quote from Joanna Lumley who was one of the judges that year  ‘The so-called bitchy world of acting was a brownie’s tea party compared with the piranha-infested waters of publishing’.

It must be pretty exciting to see your work up there listed with such luminaries as Colm Toibin, Ruth Ozeki and Jim Crace.

The Man Booker judges this year are Robert MacFarlane, Martha Kearney, Stuart Kelly, Natalie Haynes and Robert Douglas-Fairhurst . All are writers, reviewers and academics. They had to read 151 books before they produced the longlist.

The shortlist will be announced on 10 September 2013  and the winner on 15 October 2013.

As usual the bookies are circling and offering odds. William Hill is offering 5 to 1 on Jim Crace and 6 to 1 on Eleanor Catton and Colm Toibin.

The Guardian describes the list as “daring and experimental”  and you can read plenty of other comment there too.

Already our copies of The luminaries are accruing a bit of a waiting list. Maybe you should pop out and buy – support New Zealand writers. And by the by – who designed that striking cover…?

Borrow an original Colin McCahon from the library

Ronald O’Reilly
City Librarian Ron O’Reilly in 1958. Setting the bar high for art-loving librarians.

It is true. Back in the day, you could borrow Red and black landscape by Colin McCahon from the library. This blows my mind.

Canterbury Public Library had a lending collection of original New Zealand art works for 37 years. The collection was established by then City Librarian Ron O’Reilly who went on to become Director of the New Zealand Library School in Wellington and of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth.

Original works of art were bought from 2 May 1955 (The cat by Louise Henderson and Untitled (woman with fabric)  by Alison Pickmere) until 4 March 1981 (Oaro & Amuri Bluff by Margaret Rhodes and Things that go bump in the night by Stephanie Sheehan).

In October 2001, 115 paintings were formally gifted to the Christchurch Art Gallery, and more after that.

So have a browse of the Canterbury Public Library collection on the Christchurch Art Gallery website.

And imagine how cool it would have been to have one hanging up in your lounge. Choice.
Red and Black landscape by Colin McCahon

Uncle Tom’s Cabin & Tearooms: Picturing Canterbury

Photo of Uncle Tom's cabin
Uncle Tom’s Cabin & Tearooms, North New Brighton, Christchurch : pictured are the proprietor and his wife and daughters who all worked in the store.
On 3 July 1912, a Post Office was added to the General Store and Telephone Bureau run by Edward Shuell. Mr Shuell remained the Postmaster and Telephonist until the office was moved in April 1916. From left to right: Annie, Matilda (wife), Ethel (standing), Beatrice (later postmistress), Emilie and Edward Shuell (proprietor and postmaster).