Anita Brookner, who died this week, was famously restrained when discussing her work. She did though once give an insight into the character of Edith Hope, the protagonist of her 1984 Booker Prize (as it then was) winner. In the novel Edith, in self-imposed exile in a Swiss hotel, has the choice of two suitors. As Brookner told an interviewer for The Paris Review, Edith ‘nearly marries; she balks at the last minute and decides to stay in a hopeless relationship with a married man’. It was a choice that Brookner seemed to hold against her own creation. ‘As I wrote it I felt very sorry for her and at the same time very angry: She should have married one of them – they were interchangeable anyway – and at least gained some worldly success, some social respectability. I have a good mind to let her do it in some other novel and see how she will cope!’
Dr Anita Brookner was born in London on 16 July 1928. Her first novel, A Start in Life, was published in 1981. Hotel du Lac, her fourth novel, won the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1984. No one was more astonished than Anita Brookner herself as she had backed her fellow shortlistee J.G Ballard to win. Hotel du Lac was adapted for television in 1986 by Christopher Hampton and went on to be nominated for nine BAFTA awards.
The longlist for the new-look Man Booker International Prize has been announced in a flurry of firsts.
The Man Booker International Prize is delighted to reveal the ‘Man Booker Dozen’ of 13 books in contention for the 2016 Prize, celebrating the finest in global fiction.
The Shakespeare Project is a publishing venture to mark the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death. Various celebrated contemporary novelists have been asked to reimagine works by Shakespeare. The Man Booker winner Howard Jacobson was one of them and he recently published, to much acclaim, My Name is Shylock, in which the original merchant of Venice is transplanted to the ‘golden triangle’ around Alderley Edge in Cheshire, much favoured by blingy footballers. Other writers asked for their twist include Jeanette Winterson, Gillian Flynn and Man Booker shortlistee Anne Tyler, whose reimagining The Taming of the Shrew, Vinegar Girl, is scheduled to appear in June. The latest title in the project to be announced is another Man Booker winner, Margaret Atwood, who has just revealed that her retelling of The Tempest will be called Hag-Seed. The title comes from an insult hurled by Prospero to his servant Caliban in Shakespeare's play. Rather than follow the original plot (Prospero, Duke of Milan, exiled to a deserted island by his brother uses sorcery to get his revenge) Atwood's version centres on a theatre director called Felix who is fired from his job and ends up teaching in prison, which is where he plots on getting his own back. Hag-Seed is due to be published in October.