Jim Crace, twice a Man Booker shortlistee, has been talking in Malta, where he is currently writer in residence at the university of Malta, about why he reversed his decision not to write another novel, and he credits, in part, the Man Booker itself. ‘I honestly wasn’t expecting to get shortlisted for the Man Booker again,’ he said about his 2013 shortlisting for Harvest. ‘Really, I thought that I was coming to the tail end of my career and just writing books for myself, essentially … but then along comes Harvest … and my career just bounced back again. Suddenly, what was gradually quieting down was even noisier than it ever was.’ This is good news for his legion of admirers. It is good to know that the prize can, while it can't cure flu or the ageing process, nevertheless can have such a curative effect. Crace admitted another motivation too: ‘Ultimately the real reason why I returned to writing was simple: it’s just too much fun not to do it.’
Ali Smith is on a roll. As well as recently picking the Goldsmith's Prize for her Man Booker shortlisted novel How to be Both she has also just won the Saltire Literary Book of the Year award and the £2,000 cheque that goes with it. Smith's category is one of several that comprise the awards organised by the Scottish Saltire Society, and her response on winning was typically self-effacing: ‘I can't believe my luck.’
That ‘luck’ (someone really should tell her that it is not luck but quality) has not yet run out: Smith has also just been nominated for the Costa Book Awards in the novel of the year category. Also on the list of four is Neel Mukherjee with The Lives of Others who shared this year's Man Booker shortlist with Smith. The list is made up by Monique Roffey and Colm Tòibìn, a triple Man Booker shortlistee. The category winners will be announced on 5th January 2015 and the winner of the Costa Book of the Year on 27th January.
Serial Man Booker shortlistee Sarah Waters (three times and counting) took four years to write her last novel, The Paying Guests and so she deserves what might be classed as a bit of breather. So she has written a play instead and it only took her a year. The Frozen Scream (co-written with Christopher Green) is her first foray on to the stage and is based on a “lost” 1928 murder-mystery novel that was was linked to a series of unexplained deaths and came to be regarded as cursed. In classic style it is a dark-and-stormy-night story with a group of people stranded in an abandoned lodge in the depths of winter. The play runs at the Wales Millennium Centre Cardiff from the 11th to 20th December and then Birmingham Hippodrome from 7th to 17th January. Waters is being rather cagey though: ‘The audience will be told to wear warm clothing and sensible footwear, and to expect the unexpected, but after that … We mustn’t give anything away.’