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Man Booker rehab

Man Booker rehab

DBC Pierre, Man Booker winner in 2003 with Vernon God Little, gives an idea of just what a big deal the prize is in a writer's life. Speaking in India at The Mumbai LitFest he confessed that ‘It’s taken me 10 years to recover from the Booker, to recover from all the pressure and what I’ve learnt about publishing. With this book [he is in the middle of writing it], I don’t care anymore what anyone thinks, which is how it should be. With the others, I was thinking, ‘Oh my editor wants this’. . . this will be the first book since Vernon God Little where I have expressed myself clearly, the way I would if it was never to be published.’ He also mentioned that as an aspiring writer he once met Fernanda Pivano – the muse of Hemingway, Kerouac, Vidal, Ginsberg and Burroughs (a busy lady) – who told him: ‘You need a figura!’ The identity she suggested was that he should put it about that he had been ‘raised by foxes on the mountainside’. ‘I never used it,’ says Pierre. Shame.

 

Two Australian Man Bookerites, the 2014 winner Richard Flanagan and 2010 longlisted Christos Tsiolkas, have been voicing their concerns in no uncertain terms at their government's proposal to remove import restrictions on books. Aussie readers currently pay a 35 per cent premium on their reading but, argue the writers, removing this would make life infinitely harder for native writers. Tsiolkas says: ‘I fear that the lifting of the restrictions will result in job losses in publishing, and we writers depend on the labour and support of the people who work in the publishing industry . . . my fear is that the changes will result in less of our fiction being published and in less adventurous publishers.’ Flanagan meanwhile appealed directly to the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull: ‘For a government that claims it is committed to innovation it is a measure that will lay waste to Australian writing.’ Whether Australia will end up with cheaper books or better ones still remains to be seen.

 

Some consolation for Anne Enright. The 2007 MB winner (The Gathering) may have missed out on this year's prize – her charge being stopped at the longlist stage – but The Green Road has just picked up the top novel prize at the Irish Book Awards. Donal Ryan, MB shortlisted in 2013 for The Spinning Heart, was another winner, picking up the best short story award. The awards comprise 13 different categories and some 45,000 readers voted. The overall book of the year (Ryan is a previous winner) has still to be decided. It may not be the Suffragettes but if you wish to exercise your democratic right to vote, go here. So it is all to play for for Enright and Ryan.

 

The Bookseller has just published its annual list of the 100 most influential figures in British publishing. Not only do the chosen ones have a coveted place on the list but they are given further whizzy tags such as ‘trendsetter or ‘leader’ (something to put on their passports perhaps). The Man Booker has two representatives among the assorted publishing CEOs and booksellers; Gaby Wood, the Booker Prize Foundation’s new Literary Director, and Dotti Irving, doyenne of, among other things, the prize's publicity. Gaby is tagged as a ‘trendsetter’ while Dotti is both ‘evergreen’ and a ‘leader’ – which will come as no surprise to anyone who knows them. Perhaps inspired by the ‘Man Booker Dozen’ (a longlist of 13) the Bookseller traditionally chooses a 101st mover and shaker and this year it is the MD of Waterstone's James Daunt who also happens to be on the Man Booker Advisory Committee.