Submitted by Leah on Fri, 2015-10-02 15:55
A memorial service was held this week at St Martin-in-the-Fields for Ion Trewin, the much loved editor, biographer and Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation, who died earlier this year. It was a joyous affair, despite the sadness, with a remarkable array of speakers remembering Ion as they knew him. Thomas Keneally, the Booker Prize (as it then was) winner in 1982 for Schindler's Ark described Ion (who edited the novel) as ‘a good Pom’ – praise indeed from ‘a good Ozzie’; Julian Fellowes, Ann Widdecombe and Michael Palin also added a wealth of warm and droll anecdotes. Sue Perkins, a Man Booker judge in 2009, gave things a different twist. When Ion, or Father Christmas as she called him, on account of his white beard and avuncular manner, asked her to become a judge she quailed at the prospect, intimidated by the thought of joining a panel of ‘literary specialists’. ‘Do you like books?’ Ion asked her. ‘Yes’. ‘Then you'll do fine.’ As a result of the experience she found two things: one, a renewed joy in reading fiction that had been ground out of her by her undergraduate studies at Cambridge, and the other, an awareness that her opinion as a reader carried just as much weight as those of her fellow judges. These two things would, one suspects, have delighted Ion – a book man to his very fingernails – every bit as much as the gathering of friends who came to remember and celebrate him.
Two Man Booker authors have just been named on the shortlist for the Goldsmiths-New Statesman Prize for experimental fiction – Tom McCarthy for Satin Island and The Field of the Cloth of Gold by the former bus driver and 1998 shortlistee Magnus Mills. The prize is announced on 11th November, so Tom McCarthy, one of this year's Man Booker nominees of course, will have another nerve-wracking evening to look forward to almost exactly one month after the big Man Booker reveal on 13th October.
A pair of Man Booker authors have had a triumphal week beyond the page. The film of Emma Donoghue's 2010 shortlisted novel Room – the story of a mother and child held captive for five years – has just picked up a major gong at the Toronto Film Festival. Meanwhile Man Booker favourite Sarah Waters (three times a shortlistee) saw a stage version of Tipping the Velvet open at the Lyric Hammersmith. The London Evening Standard flagged its review with a gem of a teaser headline: ‘Sex, singing pigs and Sinatra’. While the headline leaves you none the wiser, you'd have to have a heart of stone not to want to see it after that.
Paying homage to the Man Booker's 2008 ‘Best of the Booker’ award, won by Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, the Bailey's Women's Prize (formerly the Orange) will this year name its own ‘Best of the Best’ by selecting one novel from the winning books of the past decade. In the mix are two Man Booker writers, Zadie Smith who won the Orange in 2006 with On Beauty (but lost out in the 2005 Man Booker to John Banville's The Sea), and Ali Smith's 2014 winner How to be Both (pipped to the Man Booker by Richard Flanagan's The Narrow Road to the Deep North). Curiously, while the award draws on winners from the past 10 years it is being held to mark the 20th anniversary of the prize.