New Zealand writer Anna Smaill is on the Man Booker Prize longlist

We’re all very excited to hear New Zealand author Anna Smaill is on the longlist for the Man Booker Prize for her book The Chimes. I’ve read it, and loved it. It’s a dystopia, yes, and also timeless and full of history, music and atmosphere:

You can hear Anna talk in Christchurch at a WORD Christchurch session Imaginary Cities, on Sunday 30 August along with Fiona Farrell, Anna Smaill, Hamish Clayton, and Hugh Nicholson  (chaired by Christchurch Art Gallery’s senior curator Lara Strongman). It’s part of a Shifting points of view season in the Christchurch Arts Festival.

Masha interviewed Anna at the Auckland Writers Festival – read her interview Anna Smaill – from a writing musician to a musical writer:

The first impulse is the sense of time going past. It’s almost having the experience of pathos in the moment, having feeling of something happening that is already gone. I’ve always had very acutely this feeling of things being transient and ephemeral and I wanted to capture them.

I definitely think the impulse to write first came from that. Of course it is also a way of working things out for me. Just to process my experiences, work out what I think about things. It always seemed a necessary thing to me. And also it’s a great entertainment.

And just the other day Anna answered some quick questions.

Best of luck, Anna.

Man Booker Prize goes to … our Eleanor Catton!!!

Cover of The LuminariesEleanor Catton The luminaries has just won the Man Booker Prize. This is news, this is big news and is PHENOMENAL!

Congratulations Eleanor!

I am watching her make a beautiful and graceful acceptance speech.

Here is the 2013 shortlist for the Man Booker Prize

Cover of We need new names Cover of Harvest Cover of The lowland Cover of A Tale for the time being Cover of The testament of Mary

Crossing our fingers for Eleanor Catton

Cover of The LuminariesNot long now until the winner of the Man Booker Prize is announced. Kia ora Eleanor Catton and best of luck. From me and all of us at Christchurch City Libraries – librarians and library users alike. I wonder what the Man Booker equivalent of Break a leg is –  Bust that Man Booker?

The Luminaries is a bloody BRILLIANT piece of fiction.

The Man Booker Prize will be announced at London’s Guildhall on Tuesday 15 October 2013 – 7 to 11pm (BST).  So we will be at our desks or having breakfast here in NZ – the event starts at Wednesday, 16 October 2013 at 7am.

NZ Listener will be there:

  • Check out the 2013 shortlist on our page listing previous nominees and winners of the Man Booker Prize

LetsgoneManBooker – the Man Booker Prize 2013 shortlist contains Catton

Here is the 2013 shortlist for the Man Booker Prize – announced last night (Tuesday 10 September):

Cover of We need new names Cover of The Luminaries Cover of Harvest Cover of The lowland Cover of A Tale for the time being Cover of The testament of Mary

Kiwis are abuzz with the news that our gal Eleanor Catton has made it through to the shortlist. Here’s some of the action on Twitter. Firstly, from Eleanor:

And then the commentary:

The winner is announced on 15 October 2013.
Congrats Eleanor, we are rooting for you to knock the bstard off!

The Man Booker Prize 2011

CoverThe winner of the Man Booker Prize is going to be announced today (update: The sense of an ending by Julian Barnes is the winner). Usually I try to read one of the books so that I sound vaguely knowledgable and literary, but this year I have only just graduated to reading books again after a diet of the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, so I just couldn’t face dredging my way through some sort of elongated word fest that leaves me feeling depressed and rather sour.

However, this year the Man Booker’s judges chaired by Dame Stella Rimington, thriller writer and former head of MI5 declared that “We want people to buy these books and read them, not buy them and admire them.”  This is almost tantamount to treason in the Man Booker realm,  and things began to get rather nasty when one reviewer declared, “Dame Stella? We’d have been better off with Dame Edna.”   (Read more in the Guardian)

We need to spare a thought for the judges though who had read all 100 plus books in the long list and then read the short list three times.  I think the Man  Booker could be introduced as an endurance sport!

All this talk of ‘readability’ bodes well for the likes of me, what have you enjoyed from the list, which ones have ‘readability’ and which ones, just as interestingly, have left you cold?

P.S.  How remiss of me.  When I was adding the list of titles to this blog I realised that I have read one!  Snowdrops by A.D Millar.  I picked it up because it looked short.  I really enjoyed it.

The Man Booker Prize 2010 goes to … Howard Jacobson

CoverThe Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson has just been announced the winner. Hooray! I even did a wee cheer to see a victory for comedy over tragedy (but also because I picked it in a competition as the winner, he he).

2010 shortlist

In A Strange Room

In my blog about two weeks ago: My Pub Quiz Fantasy  – The Man Booker Prize, I hoped that In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut would be this year’s Man Booker winner. Well, I’ve just finished reading it and I no longer care if it is the Booker winner or not. I just want other people to read it. I want to share it. It’s that good.

Three stories make up the book: The Follower, The Lover, and The Guardian. Galgut is the central character throughout. In each story he fails either to follow, to love or to guard. But put that way off to one side because he excels as The Storyteller in prose that is clean, compelling, almost hypnotic.

Arguments against this novel as a work of fiction seem spurious. All memory is fiction. Try comparing your memory of an event with someone else’s. Greg and I can barely agree as to the exact sequence of events on The Night Of  The Earthquake and that was only a month ago. I rest my case. Galgut gets round this by writing mainly in the third person “he” and then unexpectedly switching to the first person “I”. He explains this early on in the novel on page 5:

“He sits on the edge of a raised stone floor and stares out unseeingly into the hills around him and now he is thinking of things that happened in the past. Looking back at him through time, I remember him remembering, and I am more present in the scene than he was. But memory has its own distances, in part he is me entirely, in part he is a stranger I am watching.”

Needless to say book clubs  around the world can expect me to foist this latest Galgut on them. As a tribute to his writing I will finish off in Galgut style:

She knew she would put this latest book into her book club. She could see her lovely friends skirt it warily, see people pick it up and put it down. She could feel that they would rather have had another Jodi Picoult. But I don’t care, I want to share this with them. I want us to remember this book together.

Someone out there, read this book. Share your comments. I am lonely here in my one woman Damon Galgut Fanclub!

My Pub Quiz Fantasy – The Man Booker Prize

This will be one of the favourites

I am quite spectacularly useless at pub quizzes.  How can it be that I know nothing at all about Paris Hilton and her ilk, dangerously little about the All Blacks and am so abysmally bad at the recognition of pop stars. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have been reduced to banging my glass of Pinot Gris onto the table and demanding: “When will they ask me something that I know?”  To which the Pub Quiz Wunderkind (PQW) from Customer Welcome countered – “What do you know, exactly?”

Well PQW, I know about The Man Booker Prize – the literary event that everybody loves to hate. Writing careers are made or broken on its back and it is about to wreak its annual havoc on the 9th October. I love the Booker prize for the massive interest in contemporary fiction that it inspires, so I took a vow to read every single Booker prizewinning novel from the beginning of time. Here’s what I have to look forward to this year:

You can’t look at this list of loveliness and not be moved to ask: Which book would you choose as the winner? And this being the Booker prize, the follow on question: Which book will actually win?

Fast forward to my fantasy. It’s Pub Quiz night and some poor suckers have been saddled with me as a team mate. A double point question comes up: “What was the third novel written by Booker Prize nominee Damon Galgut?”

This is my fantasy, so only I will know the answer. It is the unforgettable The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs. The crowd will go wild. The PQW will come over all respectful, I’ll be shouted another glass of plonk and my team will win.

Is this too much to ask?

What are your picks for this year’s Man Booker?

Odds on favourite wins The Man Booker Prize

Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall has taken out the big one!

Her book revolves around Thomas Cromwell ‘the blacksmith boy who became Henry VIII’s right-hand man’:

Wolf Hall stands on its own, as a complete story – it is the end of one vital chapter in Thomas Cromwell’s life, and perhaps when we meet him again he will be slightly different. Five years are before him, his rise and rise – the destruction of Anne Boleyn, the battle for the soul of Henry’s daughter Mary, a revolt which is almost a civil war, the shaking and remaking of England…

I love her quote on the enduring fascination of the Tudors: ‘Almost all the stories you might want to tell are lurking behind the arras’.

So congratulations to Hilary, and if you’ve read Wolf Hall do chime in and tell us what you thought. I’m still patiently waiting to get my hands on a copy …

Man Booker prize longlist is out …

And what do you reckon? Here’s the longlist.

As yet I haven’t read ANY of these, but am intrigued especially by How to paint a dead man by Sarah Hall. I interviewed her at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival in 2008 and she talked about the percolating process of this novel:

… very loosely based around the life of Giorgio Morandi, Italian still life artist, “a very weird character who painted the same series of objects over and over again his whole life. A recluse, very well respected in the field of art but lot of rumours flew around about him and also speculation about the work. He painted bottles over and over again on the table and he never answered anyone’s artistic theories about them. There is a character loosely based on him and four narratives. Art/Death/Existential matters. It’s going to be a hard sell!”

Others on my to-read list are The Children’s Book by A. S. Byatt (blogged about Sue earlier this month) and Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. It’s set in one of the most interesting times in English history – the reign of Henry VIII – and told largely through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell. 

Another novel with a historical bent that I want to read is The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds. The description read to me like a Peter Ackroyd-esque blend of historical figures and intense lyricism – a good thing:

After years struggling with alcohol, critical neglect and depression, great nature poet John Clare finds himself in High Beach Private Asylum. At the same time another poet, the young Alfred Tennyson, moves nearby and becomes entangled in the life and catastrophic schemes of the asylum’s owner, the peculiar, charismatic Dr Matthew Allen. This intensely lyrical novel describes his vertiginous fall, through hallucinatory episodes of insanity and dissolving identity, towards his final madness. Historically accurate, but brilliantly imagined, the closed world of High Beach and its various inmates – the doctor, his lonely daughter in love with Tennyson, the brutish staff and John Clare himself – are brought vividly to life. Rapturous yet precise, exquisitely written, rich in character and detail, this is a remarkable and deeply affecting book: a visionary novel which contains a world.

  • Man Booker longlist press release
  • Heavyweights clash on Booker longlist – The Guardian
  • What have you read from the longlist? What might you want to? What glaring omissions are there?