Submitted by Leah on Fri, 2013-04-19 13:06
It has been a bewilderingly busy week for anyone who follows literary prizes. Not only have the Pulitzers been announced in America but a flurry of high-profile shortlists have been unveiled on this side of the Atlantic too – all of which have Man Booker novelists to the fore. First off the blocks was the Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize). Two of the six shortlisted novelists are Hilary Mantel and Zadie Smith (the others are Kate Atkinson, A.M. Homes, Barbara Kingsolver and Maria Semple). While a Mantel victory on 5th June would make her the first writer to win the Man Booker, Costa and Women's prizes, Smith (Man Booker shortlisted in 2005) will be going for a Women's Prize double with NW (she previously won with On Beauty).
To make her week even better, Smith has also been selected as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists (young means under 40), her second time on the list that is composed every 10 years. Also picked were Sarah Hall (Man Booker shortlisted in 2004 for The Electric Michelangelo and longlisted in 2009 for How to Paint a Dead Man) and Adam Foulds (Man Booker shortlisted in 2009 for The Quickening Maze). One of the sages who came up with the 20 bright young things was the indefatigable Stuart Kelly who clearly saw the Granta brief as a light distraction from his duties as one of this year's Man Booker judges. In a piece in The Guardian he commented that: “What has most impressed me in world fiction is the way in which an awareness of genre intersects and interacts with a knowledge of contemporary theory (my wife sometimes chides me for wanting a literature that is half Judge Dredd and half Jacques Derrida).” It would have been a treat to see the faces of his fellow Man Booker judges when they read these words.
As if two accolades aren't enough, Zadie Smith was also shortlisted for the £10,000 Royal Society of Literature's Ondaatje Prize for a book that best evokes “the spirit of a place” – in her case the London postcodes celebrated in her title, NW. Also featured is Philip Hensher (MB judge 2001 and shortlisted 2008) for Scenes from an Early Life which conjures up the rather more exotic Bengal. The winner will be announced on 13th May.
There is one prize, however, that Smith has generously left open for others – the £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction, to be announced on 14th June. In a remarkable demonstration of the reach and dexterity of the Man Booker's tentacles all of the six shortlisted authors have Man Booker connections. Hilary Mantel (well, it would hardly be a self-respecting prize without her) has been chosen for Bring Up the Bodies, Pat Barker (MB winner in 1995) for Toby's Room, Thomas Keneally (Man Booker winner in 1982) for The Daughters of Mars, Tan Twan Eng (MB shortlisted last year) for The Garden of Evening Mists, Rose Tremain (MB shortlisted in 1989) for Merivel and Anthony Quinn (MB judge in 2006) for The Streets.