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Weekly Roundup: Retirement, an exhibition and your summer reading list

Weekly Roundup: Retirement, an exhibition and your summer reading list

First Philip Roth (Man Booker International winner 2011) announced his retirement from the writing game and now Alice Munro (Man Booker International winner 2009) has followed suit. The great Canadian short-story writer is now 82 and feels she has done enough. She once confessed of her ambitions: “What I wanted was every last thing, every layer of speech and thought, stroke of light on bark or walls, every smell, pothole, pain, crack, delusion, held still and held together – radiant, everlasting.” That omnivorousness has driven her work from her first book, Dance of the Happy Shades (1968) to her last, Dear Life (2012). Now, she says, “I feel that I’ve done what I wanted to do, and that makes me feel fairly content.” There is an added bonus too: “I can have people around a lot more, because I’m not always chasing them away so I can work on my novel.” Her readers will wish her lots of agreeable visitors.

The exhibition now running at Oxford Brookes University showing items from the Man Booker archive is, hopefully, the first of many. Among the 323 boxes of material in the university's care is a version of the original Booker trophy which was created by the artist Jan Pienkowski. The full-scale trophy was awarded to the winner in the first four years of the prize only (1969-72). In 1973 a new, scaled down version was created by Patricia Turner and in 2008 the current trophy (in the shape of a book) made its first appearance. Coincidentally, the new trophy is manufactured by a company that also makes awards for the National Lottery. Winning the lottery and winning the MB frequently appear in the same sentence in the mouths of writers.

If you think books are underrepresented on the radio tune in to Talking Books on the BBC World Service. Here Razia Iqbal and Gavin Esler talk to writers of global stature about their work. Among them, naturally, are several with strong Man Booker links – Michael Frayn, Aminatta Forna, Mohsin Hamid and Justin Cartwright to name a few. The interviews are also available on BBC iPlayer.

Summer reading lists, those valuable newspaper features recommending the books that accessorise best with sunglasses and a beach towel, are now starting to make their annual appearance. The Guardian was first at the departure gate. A cohort of the paper's reviewers included numerous Man Booker writers among their recommendations, including Hilary Mantel, Ian McEwan and Roddy Doyle. The full list numbered some 35 novels so plan a very long holiday indeed.