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Weekly Roundup: Literature, pseudonyms and an Indian job search website

Weekly Roundup: Literature, pseudonyms and an Indian job search website

Although the longlist has only just been announced, the RNIB and the Booker Prize Foundation are already working to ensure that blind and visually impaired readers can sample the books on the Man Booker Prize shortlist (to be announced on 10th September). As soon as they are chosen, all six titles will be released in Braille, giant print and audiobook versions well ahead of the winner announcement on 15th October.

A rousing statement of intent from Eleanor Catton, whose novel The Luminaries is one of the books on this year’s Man Booker longlist. Having written a book of more than 800 pages, she is clearly not someone afraid to think big and the same is true of her view of literature. “The study of creative writing involves close examination of narrative itself - what is a story? what isn't a story? what could be a story?”, she writes. So far, so conventional. But she continues: “The goal isn't just to become a better writer; it's to become a better person.”  She is setting the bar high for all would-be novelists.

A coda to the great J.K. Rowling/Robert Galbraith pseudonym furore … Colm Tóibín, a Man Booker longlistee with The Testament of Mary, was one of five novelists (the others were Kevin Barry, Tessa Hadley, Joe Dunthorne and Scarlett Thomas) asked by the Guardian to write a brief (a couple of hundred words) crime story under an assumed name. To find out if his micro-whodunit was written as “Carol Bell”, “John Marcher”, “KLA Brander”, “P.M. Jameson” or “Bogdan Berbatov”, the answers – and the stories - are here.

The 2013 longlist has put in an unexpected appearance on an Indian job search website. One of the trials of interviews and job searches there is the necessity of answering general knowledge questions to show what a rounded and well-informed candidate you are. A company called Recruitment Result helpfully provides a list of current questions and their answers for mugging-up purposes. There, among such questions as, “Name the two countries who signed Solar Power Plant Agreement?” (answer India & Nigeria) is this teaser: “Who has been listed among 13 novels long listed for the Man Booker Prize 2013?” The Subcontinental answer is, of course, “Indian American author Jhumpa Lahiri”. If you know your Man Booker facts then the job’s yours…

How did Ruth Ozeki celebrate the inclusion of her novel A Tale for the Time Being on the Man Booker Prize longlist? Champagne, fireworks, a new outfit, hugging strangers in the street…? None of the above. Her book centres on a young girl’s diary washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox so Ozeki thought she might calm her excitement by jumping into the Pacific and “swimming in the same beautiful ocean”.