Submitted by Leah on Fri, 2013-10-11 17:07
It has taken several years but the Nobel Prize committee has finally caught up with the Man Booker International Prize and recognised Alice Munro's achievements in literature over the past 40 years. Congratulations to her. Since Munro recently announced that she had called a halt to her writing career, what better way for her to reflect on her life in letters than to look at her mantelpiece where the Nobel Prize for Literature will take its place alongside the MBI she won in 2009? Even her most ardent fans will admit that hers is a job well done.
Congratulations are due too to Sarah Hall, Man Booker shortlisted in 2004 and longlisted in 2009, for winning the £15,000 BBC National Short Story Award with Mrs Fox, her tale of a woman who turns into a fox. Hall said that her work is loosely based on a 1922 novella called Woman into Fox by the Bloomsbury acolyte David Garnett. In a curious admission she said that although she has a copy of the book she has yet to read it. Garnett, incidentally, was known as “Bunny” because as a child he had a cloak made of rabbit skin, which sounds like the basis for another Sarah Hall short story.
The prize that really matters though is, of course, the Man Booker, to be awarded on Tuesday October 15th . In the lead up to the announcement five of the shortlisted authors will be appearing on stage at the Sky Arts Garden Theatre as part of the Cheltenham Festival of Literature. Ion Trewin, the prize administrator, will be marshalling readings and a Q&A session. There is also a live event with all six shortlisted authors at the Queen Elizabeth Hall at London's Southbank Centre on the evening of Sunday 13th. The event itself – hosted by Mark Lawson – has sold out but, fear not, it is being screened live on this website. Mark Lawson will also be taking questions from outside the event via Twitter, so please send in your questions as the evening progresses with the hashtag #manbookerlive. The first truly public appearance by the new Man Booker laureate will be at the Apple store on Regent Street in London on Thursday 17th where he or she will discuss their winning book and, if they are not too shell-shocked, the whole Man Booker experience. The event is free but reservations need to be made to book a place.
Elsewhere two of Britain's “cities of culture” are coming to the Man Booker party with events of their own. The Broughty Ferry Library in Dundee will be hosting the members of seven different reading groups for an evening of discussions, a quiz and a prize draw. In Leicester there will be a similar gathering at the Kibworth Cricket Club with a big screen on which the link-up to the Guildhall in London for the final announcement. A signed set of the six shortlisted books is the star item in the evening's prize draw.
The Man Booker, we like to think, has long had a tacit seal of approval but now it is getting what amounts to a royal warrant. Camilla, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall will be attending the prize dinner on Tuesday – the first time a member of the Royal Family has done so. Her interest in the prize is perhaps no surprise since she has long been an avid supporter of reading initiatives including National Literacy Trust.
As if she didn't have enough to do in helping select a winner, Natalie Haynes, one of this year's judges, recently visited Holland Park School in London to talk to the sixth-formers about the shortlist and all things Man Booker. Her appearance had two noticeable effects: it sent the students rushing to the library in search of MB winners (Yann Martel's Life of Pi has, it seems, been on permanent loan ever since) and it enthused Natalie Haynes enough to hint she might turn all schoolmarmish and return to the school to talk about Latin (one of her great loves). The Holland Park girls should get their apples ready for the new teacher.