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Longlist, short time

Longlist, short time

​A note for the diary: the Man Booker International Prize 2018 longlist is only a heartbeat away. The chair of judges Lisa Appignanesi OBE and her red-eyed-from-reading gang – Michael Hofmann, Hari Kunzru, Tim Martin and Helen Oyeyemi – will be announcing their choices on Monday, 12 March at 2pm. The elite Man Booker Dozen of 13 authors will then have to chew their nails for a month before learning if they have made the cut for the shortlist (announced on 12 April). If they have any nervous energy left, the winner will be revealed at a dinner at the V&A Museum in London on 22 May.

Congratulations to Fiona Mozley, Kamila Shamsie and Arundhati Roy, all longlisted for the Man Booker prize last year with Elmet, Home Fire and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness respectively, who have now joined the 16-strong longlist for the Women's Prize for Fiction (Mozley has also been longlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize, worth £30,000 and announced on 10 May). Discussing the judges' selection, their chair, Sarah Sands, said that: “Women of the world are a literary force to be reckoned with.”

Literature lovers based in Dubai may have been lucky enough to congratulate Mozley and Shamsie on their achievement in person, as they appeared together at the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature earlier this afternoon, as part of the year-long Man Booker 50th anniversary celebrations. Next up: three former judges (Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, A.C. Grayling and Erica Wagner) will give audiences at Charleston Festival a chance to peek behind the curtain of the Man Booker judging process. On May 24 they will fiercely advocate for the winning books they chose, presided over by Gaby Wood, Literary Director of The Booker Prize Foundation (book tickets here).

The wonderfully forthright Olivia Williams, a Man Booker judge in 2016, has been speaking about all things acting courtesy of her role in a new sci-fi series, Counterpart (no UK release date has yet been set). Asked how she deals with tricky co-stars, she responded: “I have been very lucky and had to deal with very few. If asking ‘what do you need?’ doesn’t get a cooperative response I make friends with the DP (director of photography) and act opposite a piece of gaffer tape while the tricky f***** goes back to his or her trailer.” Disappointingly, what was not discussed was the time she spent in the Bolivian rainforest in 1997 studying spectacled bears. One imagines that wildlife can be every bit as temperamental as a tricky co-star but perhaps the bears had no diva-ish tendencies – or trailers.

Philip Hensher, Man Booker judge in 2001 and a shortlistee with The Northern Clemency in 2008, has a new novel out – The Friendly Ones. In a recent interview he revealed his iconoclast tendencies: “The characters I always really like in books are never the lead, always a secondary character,” he revealed. “Take Pride and Prejudice: I don’t know why anyone would go for Darcy when they could have Bingley. And Mr Knightley in Emma. Oh God, imagine having dinner with Knightley.” One suspects that a regiment of outraged Jane Austenites are currently beating a path to his door.

Good news for fans of Simon Mawer's 2008 Man Booker shortlisted The Glass Room shooting has started in Czechoslovakia in the Tugendhat Villa in Brno for the film adaptation. The villa, a glass, onyx and steel Modernist masterpiece by Mies van der Rohe, was built between 1928 and 1930 and is the unacknowledged star of Mawer's story of a wealthy Jewish family facing the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. In the book the architect becomes Rainer von Abt and the family, the Landauers. What will prick the interest of buffs is that Carice van Houten from Game of Thrones is the female lead. Release is due in early 2019.